Panicked by its inability to stem the flow of leaks, the White House is having men in suits scour the West Wing for non-government-issued electronics, per a new CNN report.
The men roam throughout halls and rooms to sweep for items such as personal phones, which they detect using a handheld device, inside sources told CNN. If something is detected, they’ll ask if anyone forgot to put away their phone, giving them a chance to come forward.
That’s taken as an extra precautionary step on top of ordering staffers to stash away all personal devices in their cars or in lockers by the entrances to the West Wing, the outlet reported.
While inside the building, they’re prohibited to use the devices throughout the entirety of the workday. Aides told CNN that’s resulted in crowds of officials gathering around the lockers to check the loads of messages that have piled up on their phones while they’ve been gone.
The personal cellphone ban isn’t new, however. It was implemented last January after Chief of Staff John Kelly floated the idea. While officials claim the rule was made to in the interest of national security, multiple sources said to CNN that they felt it was a way to crack down on leaks.
The White House has been met with intense scrutiny after issuing no apology in the wake of last week’s leak of a joke made about Sen. John McCain‘s cancer by staffer Kelly Sadler in a closed-door meeting.
According to leaks, Sadler quipped that McCain’s opposition to Trump’s CIA Director nominee didn’t matter because “he’s dying anyway,” and the crisis that followed led Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to call another meeting to berate staffers for the leak. News of that meeting subsequently leaked.
Sanders and Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah have focused their ire more on the act of leaking than the content of the joke itself, which has drawn scrutiny.
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