President Donald Trump characterized months of reported infighting within his administration as a battle between staffers competing for his affection in an interview published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal.
Trump, asked about the Justice Departments role in quashing a spate of leaks to the media from anonymous sources within the White House and various federal agencies, said he hoped Attorney General Jeff Sessions would go after the leakers in intelligence. However, the president, seemingly as an aside, appeared to quip that he wasnt bothered by staffers leaking positive things about his administration.
I dont mean the White House stuff where theyre fighting over who loves me the most, OK? Trump said, with the transcript noting there was laughter in the room at the comment. Its just stupid people doing that.
The president later said he was very disappointed in the fact that the Justice Department has not gone after the leakers.
Theyre the ones that have the great power to go after the leakers, you understand, he said. So and Im very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.
Trumps comments may be in reference to a Politico story from May that said aides within the Oval Office sometimes slip the president fake news stories to press their advantage on policy; other times they do so to gain an edge in the seemingly endless Game of Thrones inside the West Wing.
Westeros aside, the Trump administration has been rife with infighting since its early days, when media outlets described a White House in chaos or raging through a civil war. Senior staffers have reportedly launched tense battles over issues including the Paris climate accordand the recent appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, and much of the drama has made its way into the media.
Scaramuccis new role reportedly led to Sean Spicers resignation as White House press secretary last week in protest and drew disapproval from his deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Scaramucci has vowed to end the leaks himself, going so far as to say hed fire everybody if the leaks dont stop. He backed off those comments Tuesday, saying he had no plans to fire people, at least for now.