(February 28, 2017) Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, has blasted sharing of information that is not authorized. This happens on his own staffers, and in response, he ordered a general phone search and checks. He also urged staffers to not use messaging apps that are encrypted.
The decision by the press secretary has been triggered just last week at one of the planning meetings with the White House Office of Communications employees. At the meeting, it was said that information had been leaked to the media, according to sources also present at the same meeting. Spicer reportedly commanded the staffers who were at the meeting to turn over their personal mobile phones, and also the phones provided by the government for “checking”. The leaks have put the Trump Administration in an unfavorable position in the media.
Also, the White House press secretary instructed the staffers not to use apps that allow encryption of messages. In particular, he mentioned “Confide” and “Signal”. Confide is an app that enables users to send encrypted messages, which instantaneously “self-destruct”. Meanwhile, Signal uses end-to-end encryption of text messages, as well as images. Spicer further added that using these apps, and other related apps will violate the Presidential Records Act.
One particular leak that has gotten the White House press secretary riled up was a report concerning Michael Dubke’s appointment as the communications director of the White House. The report was leaked even before the official announcement was made. Dubke was the replacement for Spicer. Likewise, the report suggests that it made it hard for him to settle his duties as communications chief and presidential press secretary.
Spicer warned, mentioning top administration officials, that if the efforts have failed to pinpoint the sources of the leaks, the staffers must anticipate a far more demanding investigation. To set an example, Spicer deleted the Confide app on his mobile phone. He ended the meeting by warning the staffers against any disclosure of details and information given at the event.
The White House lawyers were also invited by Spicer alongside the communications staffers. The lawyers would oversee the improvised searches. According to reports, Spicer initially asked for the advice of Don McGahn, the White House counsel for President Trump. At the moment, Spicer does not have any comment regarding the reports.