Here's How White House Staffers Are Defying a West Wing’s Phone Ban to Leak About The President

The administration installed lockers for cell phones, and two men conduct surprise sweeps for unauthorized devices — but staffers still leak.

As a candidate, Donald Trump loved leaks—once even invoking the self-described “transparency” site WikiLeaks in an effort to find dirt on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“no collusion”). As president, leaks—which have come from top White House aides and even Trump himself—are less impressive; in a tweet Monday, he likened leakers who speak with reporters to “traitors.”

As CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported Tuesday, the Trump administration is trying to frame the latest White House leak scandal, which features a top official joking about the death of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), as a “leaking problem” as opposed to a character void in the West Wing.

“Over the last 16 months, the Trump administration has gone to great lengths to stop these leaks from happening to no avail,” Collins reports. “One of those efforts is from the chief of staff, John Kelly, who instituted this personal cell phone ban back in January.”

Collins explained the White House has “installed lockers at entrances into the West Wing where staffers put their phone in a locker, lock it up and leave it there, for the remainder of the day.” Referring to “sources inside the White House,” Collins said staffers are often “huddled around the lockers, checking their phones and when the staffers aren't there, these lockers are constantly buzzing and chirping with alerts from the staffers' cell phones.”

“This is not a ban based on the honor system,” Collins continued. “They have two men dressed in suits who periodically will go throughout West Wing, conducting a sweep to find unauthorized nongovernment issued phones throughout the West Wing.”

Collins said the men go “from room to room to room,” using “largely accurate” devices that can even detect “what kind of cell phone[s]” are in the room.

“Stopping the use of personal cell phones in the West Weng is not stopping staffers from telling reporters what is going on behind closed doors,” Collins added.

“So the White House is framing this as a leaking problem, but the bottom line is dozens of senior White House officials who work in this White House behind me talk to reporters throughout the day,” she said. “The president himself even talks to reporters and it is a way that reporters find out what's going on behind closed doors in the west wing to tell the American people.”

Watch the report below:

Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

Elizabeth Preza is the Managing Editor of AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.