In the new era of Donald Trump, there is an undeniable presence of chaos, in-house rivalries, extraordinary leaks, profound paranoia, and a strict diet of alternative facts at the White House. But how can employees or a country depend on or survive under an administration riddled with such alleged destructive behaviors? In a series of interviews, several White House aides and agency staff described a workplace ripe by suspicion, accusations of rival factions trying to embarrass them, civil servants trying to undermine the president and a belief that intelligence officials are on a mission to destroy them.

How much work can get done or peace of mind attained if you are constantly looking over your shoulder?

Living in the age of leaking information and daily backstabbing

Aides are going to extreme lengths in desperate attempts to protect themselves. Some turn off their work-issued smartphones after they arrive home, fearing they can be used to eavesdrop. Many use encrypted apps which will automatically delete messages once they’ve been read. Others leave personal cell phones at home. One aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said people were scared and the Trump White House was a pretty hostile environment. Trump loyalists seem most suspicious of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

A culture of paranoia

Since last week’s Wikileaks release of a slew of CIA documents, fears have intensified. A few White House aides are thoroughly convinced agents are monitoring their emails, text messages and phone calls. According to Politico, one aide says he not only turns off his work phone once he’s home, but he then stores it in a drawer and uses his personal phone in another room so that his voice won’t be picked up on the tucked away, turned-off work phone.

One Republican close to junior-level staffers stated that because everyone at the top is so suspicious, the paranoia has trickled down. An agency staff member admitted to cataloguing Facebook and Twitter posts of co-workers who he thinks harbor anti-Trump feelings and may be a threat.