Sean Spicer — spokesman for the leakiest White House in history — summoned his staff to a surprise meeting where they were forced undergo a "phone check" where they unlocked their phones to prove they had "nothing to hide."
Spicer then went on to lecture his staff that using privacy-oriented messaging apps like Signal and Confide "was a violation of the Presidential Records Act."
Word is that Spicer is worried that his boss — whose trademark, after all, is to bark "you're fired" — is growing impatient with the the shambolic nature of White House communications, and that this is why Trump staged his own, off-script, bizarre and ominous press-conference.
At the meeting, Spicer told his staff they'd be subjected to worse punishments if news of the meeting was leaked.
News of the meeting has now leaked.
But with mounting tension inside the West Wing over stories portraying an administration lurching between crises and simmering in dysfunction, aides are increasingly frustrated by the pressure-cooker environment and worried about their futures there.
Within the communications office, the mood has grown tense. During a recent staff meeting, Spicer harshly criticized some of the work deputy communications director Jessica Ditto had done, causing her to cry, according to two people familiar with the incident. "The only time Jessica recalls almost getting emotional is when we had to relay the information on the death of Chief Ryan Owens," Spicer said, referring to the Navy SEAL killed recently in action in Yemen.
Ditto also denied the accounts. "This is 100 percent not true," she said Sunday after the incident was reported. "Sean and I have a great working relationship."
Spicer declined to comment about the leak crackdown.
Sean Spicer targets own staff in leak crackdown
[Annie Karni and Alex Isenstadt/Politico]