All over the world political life suffer leaks that reflect the current state of public activities, but rarely has an Administration seen the number of embarrassing and unsettling leaks that have marked the first three weeks of the #Donald Trump Presidency. In fact, the leaks began even before his Inauguration and led to veteran Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein stating that in his fifty years of career he had never seen the number of leaks that are now coming out of the White House.
As the Leader of the free world one of #Donald Trump’s first tasks was to contact the other Heads of Government as the beginning of at least four years of cooperation.
This normally standard routine did not go as planned and leaks revealed how some of these telephone calls became more than simple courtesy.
The telephone call to Australian Prime Minister #Malcolm turnbull became a bone of contention when #President Trump protested at the agreement made with the Obama Administration to take the 1,250 refugees embroiled in an embarrassing situation for America’s long term ally. The leak led to Senator John McCain visiting the Australian Ambassador in Washington to heal any possible rift.
The telephone call with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieta also took an unusual turn when President Trump apparently made reference to sending troops into Mexico to look after “bad hombres”. In the light of the very public argument between the two countries regarding an American built wall between them this comment was at best ill advised.
In recent days news has leaked about another unusual first telephone call which some reporters have labeled as “disastrous” with France’s President François Hollande in which President Trump apparently wanted to concentrate on money matters rather than international politics.
The leaks of the telephone calls could only have come from within the White House itself and would indicate dissatisfaction with members of the staff regarding the behaviour of the President in his dealings with other countries. This development should not come as a surprise as the President himself is under a cloud for a leak regarding another foreign leader.
The deadliest leak
The new Administration began under a barrage of questions due to allegations regarding vladimir Putin and Russian interference in the presidential campaign in favour of Donald Trump. The issue became much worse when BuzzFeed put online a redacted version of the initial report and the CNN picked it up as a major item.
This lead to Donald Trump’s refusal to accept questions from CNN reporter Jim Acosta during his first and so far only press conference.
These accusations are currently under investigation by the intelligence community and no definitive judgment can as yet be made. Yet the very fact that such a document became available to news sources indicates that leaks also come from within the intelligence community and which raise questions about the meaning of these leaks.
Secret and open message
Leaks cannot be dismissed as merely incorrect behaviour by disgruntled staff, or disloyal political appointees trying to discredit the #oval office. As stated by Bernstein, who himself has great experience in these matters, leaks can also be messages by members of the Administration that cannot officially talk about matters that they see as disturbing, or potentially damaging for the country.
The telephone calls regarding the calls to world leaders are such indications as they reflect behaviour by Donald Trump that is uncommon for diplomatic relations and particularly with countries that have been allies of the United States for many decades.
The sources are not easy to find and naturally the journalists will not name them, but the sheer number and nature of the leaks should give the Oval Office and its staff, beginning with President Trump, cause to consider why they are occurring. At stake is not simply the President, but indeed the reputation of the whole country.