Trump’s presidency has been hobbled by a roller coaster news cycle that’s being fueled by a steady flow of White House leaks. Instead of advancing their promised prolific agenda of reform, the administration struggles to stay afloat in a sea of their own manufactured controversies and harmful internal leaks.
Behind what the administration would lead you to believe are hallucinogenic headlines, there’s a deeper story to be told — one of despondent public servants so flabbergasted by what they’re seeing that they are eager to tell their story to the outside world.
The Trump administration promised to drain the swamp and completely shake up politics as usual in Washington. Unfortunately, they’ve drained the political bog so well that a once-productive ecosystem of public policy has become a dried-out desert.
The traditional process for policy deliberation at the White House has come to a standstill, says a former high-ranking official from the Bush administration, who requested anonymity.
Legions of career employees with much-needed policy expertise at the White House have been completely sidelined and ignored. Their advice goes unsolicited as a small circle of Trump confidants calls every shot. The process for deliberation before enacting a policy isn’t happening, and that’s why we’re seeing major stumbles, such as the Muslim Ban, play out publicly.
“[The Trump Administration] appears to be making decisions in the Oval office and not utilizing this process,” our source said. “So, people who feel like they have something to contribute feel left out and leak.”
This is why this prominent Republican operative believes leaks will continue for the foreseeable future. “He [Trump] is building a team who is expected to be loyal, and there’s no problem with that. However, leaks come from lower-level staff people, often career employees, who feel left out.”
Our source sketched out why change inside the White House often isn’t glamorous or speedy and instead has to pass through several levels of bureaucracy to assure appropriateness and effectiveness. Historically, this process creates buy-in at every level and avoids the massive leaking and disloyalty that we’re seeing on a regular basis.
Therefore, any meaningful change starts with junior people, and disagreements are elevated to more senior people.
“One of the most important lessons I learned was that leaks occur when people inside the bureaucracy, who have worked a long time on something, believe they are an expert and then feel a decision was made without being consulted,” our well-placed source said.
This entire process has been scrapped and deemed unnecessary. This is why we’re seeing major moves by the administration, including the Muslim Ban, being made without consulting members of the White House Cabinet. Reportedly, many of them found out about the ban only hours before the president signed it.
Leaks continue to bedevil the administration and are beginning to anger the president as his moments to shine are eclipsed by scandal. But Trump and his closest confidants show no sign of embracing the traditional way things were done by past presidents.
In fact, they’re doubling down on their top-down method of management, and not planning on filling hundreds of open administrative positions. They believe that government should be leaner and that a thin elite of hand-picked Trump surrogates can run the entire underbelly of the executive branch without the help of career bureaucrats.
While the idea of lean government makes for a nice talking point among his base, in reality, he’s galvanizing the framework for a sustained tsunami of leaking from the inside. Leaks are a form of disloyalty in a White House that isn’t interested in utilizing their expertise. Until the scores of people who work there feel like they’re being listened to, they won’t stop airing their grievances to the hungry press.
Photo by angela n.
Cathy Areu is a liberal TV news analyst whose writing has appeared in The Washington Post Magazine, Today.com, USA Weekend, and People magazine.
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
“hobbled by a roller coaster news cycle that’s being fueled by a steady flow of White House leaks.” Hobbled: metaphor of something forcing a lame walk. Roller coaster: metaphor of quick ups and downs; a wild ride. News cycle: metaphor of news as a periodic cyclical thing. Fueled: metaphor of actual fuel used to power something. Steady flow of White House Leaks…..gosh that is so cute. <3 <3 You know what this story hook is like? It's cute legs for the article to run on. And bare arms to hold it tight. But you never mentioned "deep state". Oh, oh. I see…. another metaphor. Too many, said my high school lit teacher oh so many years ago, are a wrench in the ointment. 🙂