Apr 10, 2017

White House leaks reveal a much deeper problem

Susan Walsh / AP

Politico's Shane Goldmacher has a story this morning, in which six White House staff leak to him about a confidential planning meeting that happened last week. Only about 30 staff were in the meeting, led by Trump's communications director Mike Dubke, in a conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office.

That's a 20% leak rate. Bad!

What it means: The leaks illustrate a dynamic that's defined Trumpworld since the campaign — a stark and persistent division (and distrust) between staff who view themselves as "America First" Trump loyalists, and those who they view as either RNC implants ("Reince's people") or Johnny-come-lately consultants who are more comfortable with the establishment than with populist nationalists.


  • The purpose of the meeting was to craft a communications strategy to mark Trump's first 100 days in office.
  • Dubke pitched the need for a "rebranding" of Trump — a comment he tells Goldmacher was misconstrued.
  • Dubke said Trump's foreign policy posed a messaging challenge because "there is no Trump doctrine."
  • White House aides weren't thrilled with the rebranding or doctrine comments or the general brainstorming setup. "I think the president's head would explode if he heard that," one official said of the "rebranding" comment. Another official complained the meeting made them "feel like I was back in 5th grade."

One anonymous quote in Goldmacher's story provides the clue: the source says Dubke rubbed some people the wrong way by saying there's no Trump Doctrine. "On the campaign we were pretty clear about what he wanted to do," the official said. "He was elected on a vision of America First. America First is the Trump doctrine."

Dubke's response to Goldmacher: "It was a brainstorming session and I really wish they had spoken up in the room so that we could have had an open and honest conversation...It is unproductive adjudicating internal discussions through the media."

Go deeper

WHO won't call coronavirus a pandemic as cases spread

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization will not yet call the coronavirus a pandemic, claiming that needs across affected countries are too varied and the classification would increase fear, per a briefing Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,620 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 13 mins ago - Health

The global scramble to contain the coronavirus

Taking precaution, in the Philippines. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and the window to prevent a global pandemic is narrowing.

Zoom in: Here's a look at what comes with a coronavirus outbreak in communities outside China that have been hardest hit so far.

Go deeperArrow31 mins ago - World