President Trump recently held an Oval Office meeting with top communications aides to voice his frustration over the many “leaks” coming out of the White House, calling for the culprits to be identified and changes made to the communications shop, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.
Fox News has previously reported that the White House was looking to shake up staff – changes aimed more at lower and mid-level aides – amid concerns about leaks specifically from the communications department. The push ramped up after The Hill broke a story that aide Kelly Sadler had made inappropriate remarks about cancer-stricken Sen. John McCain during a communications department meeting of roughly 30 people. (She apparently dismissed his opposition to Trump’s CIA nominee because “he’s dying anyway.”)
The story caused major embarrassment for the White House and led to sustained criticism after officials did not publicly rebuke Sadler, who later called McCain's daughter Meghan to apologize privately.
Some senior administration officials, who vent that critical stories about White House "palace intrigue" often overshadow positive policy news, saw the Sadler situation as yet another example of how a few staff members were able to throw the administration’s message off course by leaking.
The latest meeting with Trump included Sadler herself as well as senior aide Mercedes Schlapp and others.
It’s unclear when and if firings are still coming.
A senior administration official strongly disputed a report that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has signed off on a formal plan to initiate firings and transfers to other parts of the administration.
Kelly "never signed off on any plan," the source said.
But a strong expectation pervades the West Wing that changes are in the works.
Trump tweeted a warning last week.
"The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible," Trump tweeted. “With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!”