In the latest leak to emerge from the tumultuous Trump White House, aide Kelly Sadler reportedly identified her own boss as a leaker when confronted by President Trump about who was spilling internal secrets.
Sadler’s name burst into public view after reports leaked that she had made an insensitive crack about Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who is battling brain cancer.
McCain’s opposition to CIA Director Gina Haspel (whose confirmation was imperiled by her time running a secret Thai prison where waterboarding occurred) didn’t matter because ‘he’s dying anyway,’ Sadler reportedly said at an internal meeting.
The leak caused a blowup that lasted days, and prompted the president to call four people: Chief of Staff John Kelly, Sadler, director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp, and press aide Raj Shah into the Oval Office, Axios reported.
Mercedes Schlapp, left, pictured with her husband Matt Schlapp, was identified as a leaker in a small meeting with President Trump
Trump told Sadler at the time he wouldn’t fire her — a position in keeping with public support Sadler got from the top of the White House press shop.
Trump added ‘separately’ that he’s no fan of McCain, according to the leaked report. He added, separately in the conversation, that he’s no fan of McCain.
Then the president told Sadler he wanted to know who the leakers were. ‘Sadler then stunned the room: To be completely honest, she said, she thought one of the worst leakers was Schlapp, her boss,’ according to the report.
According to the account, Schlapp vigorously defended herself during the meeting.
The account is noteworthy in part because Schlapp was quoted defending Sadler during the initial furor over the McCain comment.
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Kelly Sadler, who reportedly joked that John’s McCain’s opposition to a nomination wouldn’t matter because ‘he’s dying anyway,’ reportedly identified Schlapp as a leaker
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wants to root out leakers
White house Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah was leading the meeting where the McCain crack got made
‘You can put this on the record: I stand with Kelly Sadler,’ she said, according to an earlier Axios account.
Her husband, Matt Schlapp, also defended Sadler. The American Conservative Union Chairman said Sadler was ‘a little bit of a victim.’
‘Kelly is my friend. I feel bad she is going through this. She immediately called to apologize. She’s also a little bit of a victim here,’ Schlapp told CNN.
President Donald Trump has signaled to his top communications aides that he’s ready to send some of their less senior staffers packing – a move he hopes will cut the White House’s culture of leaking off at the knees.
Chief of Staff John Kelly has signed off on the plan, according to a Politico report last week.
But it wasn’t immediately clear when the axe will swing at mid-level and junior employees, or how many Kelly plans to fire.
But it appears press and messaging leaders like Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and Mercedes Schlapp are safe.
Senior Trump-whisperer Kellyanne Conway said last week, however, that the White House had identified some secret leakers, and ‘they’re not all junior folks.’
The report comes days after an official told DailyMail.com Trump would ‘take out the trash’ and get rid of mid-level leakers.