White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is suggesting that new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s promised changes to the agency will include clamping down on damaging leaks to the press, after transcripts of President Trump’s phone conversations with two world leaders were leaked.
“He has made very clear to people at State that they should expect major changes coming, and I would assume on leaking is one of them,” Conway said in an interview aired Sunday on Fox News’ “Media Buzz” with Howie Kurtz.
Conway’s comments follow White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggesting several days earlier to Fox that Trump has asked his team to look into the leaks.
There is no evidence so far on who leaked partial transcripts of Trump’s separate calls with Mexican President Enrique Pena and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
However, much of the speculation has focused on the State Department, particularly those from the former Obama administration, considering hundreds of agency employees purportedly signed a dissent memo on Trump’s recent executive order to temporarily ban immigration from seven mostly Muslim nations.
To be sure, Tillerson said Thursday at State Department headquarters, after being sworn-in, that he is committed to reviewing processes that need change.
Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil chief executive, said he wouldn’t make changes “for the sake of change,” but also made clear that “no one will tolerate disrespect of anyone.’’
A released partial transcript of Trump’s call last week with Pena shows Trump saying: "You have a bunch of bad hombres down there. … You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it."
Both countries have said the conversation was not confrontational. And Eduardo Sanchez, spokesman for Mexico's presidential office, said reports that Trump threatened to send in troops are “absolutely false.”
Details about Trump's call last week with Turnbull also were leaked to the media. Trump reportedly ended the phone call abruptly after a disagreement about refugee policy. However, both sides again downplayed the reported acrimony.
“Believe me, when you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having -- don’t worry about it,” Trump said after the calls, at a prayer breakfast last week in Washington, D.C. “Just don’t worry about it.”
Conway also said Sunday: “We are not leakers. … We are duty-bound to this country to not leak information that could jeopardize all of us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.