WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer recently checked his aides’ cell phones to ensure they weren’t communicating with reporters as part of an aggressive effort to stem the recent tide of White House leaks.
Spicer called staff into his office last week to reiterate his frustration with the leaks, sources with knowledge of the matter said. He informed them that the use of encrypted texting apps, like Signal and Confide, was a violation of the Federal Records Act.
Then, with White House counsel Don McGahn standing by, Spicer asked his staff to provide him with their cell phones so he could ensure they were not using those apps or corresponding privately with reporters.
Spicer asked to review both his staff’s government-issued and personal cell phones, the sources said. He also specifically asked his staff not to leak information about the meeting or his efforts to crack down on leaks to the media, one source said.
The meeting, which Politico first reported, comes as the White House increases security measures to address President Donald Trump’s anger over leaks from administration officials and staffers.
Spicer, who declined to comment on the meeting, was particularly frustrated with the fact that the decision to appoint Mike Dubke as White House communications director, which CNN first reported, was leaked to the press a week earlier, the sources said. Spicer and Dubke are friends, and Spicer had backed his appointment.