​Washington Leaks on Pruitt and Jackson - Is This How Policy is Made?

Why does Washington leak so much? That might seem like a policy question or an operational or tactical question. And leaks can certainly be because of policy disagreements or attempts to change an administration’s tactics, but they can also be due to very personal and petty reasons. Or some toxic cocktail of resentment, ambition, and frustration.

In Taegan Goddard's Political Wire insider newsletter they ran a story earlier this month on the possible source of emerging leaks on EPA head Scott Pruitt. Goddard's source is insideepa.com, just about as insider and targeted a newsletter as you will find in Washington, or anywhere else. This is what was written about the leaks on Pruitt:

Rob Porter, a top former aide to President Donald Trump who was fired earlier this year over domestic abuse allegations, is reportedly a source of information about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's ethical transgressions that are threatening his future at the agency, after Porter's relationship with a top former Pruitt aide soured.

"Porter did not respond to requests for comment but two sources say he leaked information about Pruitt after Samantha Dravis, his former girlfriend who resigned last week as head of EPA's policy office, leaked information about his assaults on his two former wives to White House Counsel Don McGahn.

Press reports have indicated that Dravis leaked the information to the White House counsel's office after finding out that Porter had been having an affair with now-departed White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

That's a trashy soap opera script if there ever was one. Is it true? Or is this a leak about supposed leaks meant to shame and discredit former members of Trump's inner circle like Rob Porter and Hope Hicks? Hard to tell, but it could very well be true. So while Democrats would love to force Pruitt to resign because they hate his view of the EPA's role, it seems that some inside the White House have no love lost for Pruitt for snarky, territorial reasons. One of the latest leaks on Pruitt, as reported by the Daily Caller, suggests that:

(the)EPA has turned down an offer from the White House to help prepare the administrator for what is sure to be a bruising few hours of questions about the ethics and government spending controversies that have dogged him of late.

So it seems White House aides offered help, were turned down , and then leaked to the press about Pruitt's refusal and also leaked that top officials were debating whether Pruitt should remain at the EPA.

And now Ronny Jackson - nominated to head the VA - has resigned after leaks about supposed drinking and an accident with a government vehicle and something about prescription pills. Leaks that Montana's John Tester quickly repeated on CNN in order to sink Jackson's nomination. Jackson has since withdrawn of course. These are the wrong reasons for Jackson to resign over. If Congress doubted his capacity then they should have held hearings and not have suspended them and waited for Jackson to submit to the pressure and bow out.

While it is tempting to blame Trump's style for encouraging leaking as a tactic to counter some of his decision making, it seems that leaking viewed as a God-given natural right for anyone living anywhere between Fairfax, Virginia and southern Maryland is a phenomenon that has long been around and will be here to stay.

Twitter has already become an alternative to standard news media channels, as a way to communicate decisions and opinions with one's base or even with the public at large. Imagine anonymously sourced stories becoming the only way of getting any significant news. Perhaps supported by an ironic tweet or two that hints that the rumors might be true.

We're half-way there already. Maybe we should give up on the hope that Washington will ever contain its incontinence, and will forever be waddling around with a soiled diaper's worth of rumor and gossip.

With the media merely masters of their domain; fondling and shaping the gossip into whatever narrative their paymasters want. And that's how policy will be made from now on.

Posted by Keeley at April 27, 2018 6:35 PM
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