White House officials have asserted that the series of controversies dogging President Donald Trump's administration are due to insiders coordinating leaks to damage his credibility with the public.
On May 17, amid controversies related to Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey and his meeting with Russian officials, White House officials told CBS News that the scandals erupted because of administration leaks that were "coordinated and timed."
On May 15, Trump administration officials disclosed that Trump had revealed classified counterterrorism information to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during a private meeting at the White House, the Washington Post reports.
Though White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters that the story was not true, Trump verified its accuracy the next day on social media, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting), which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety," Trump tweeted out.
White House officials asserted that that information had been leaked by administration staffers in a "deliberate attempt" to harm the president's credibility.
Journalists have not lacked insider sources willing to disclose information on the Trump White House. On May 10, the Washington Post offered an unflattering portrait of Trump's decision to fire Comey based on a whopping 30 sources within the Trump administration.
The Trump administration has repeatedly expressed frustration with insider leaks to the media. On Feb. 2, Trump adviser Michael Caputo told Politico that trying to identify leakers within the White House "is like trying to count the cockroaches under the couch."
Several former Trump advisers have suggested purging the White House staff and replacing them with loyalists to stop the leaks.
"You almost have to clean house and bring in true believers that are better capable of governing," an anonymous Trump campaign adviser told The Hill. "Dissatisfied people leak, so clearly a lot of senior advisers are not happy."
An anonymous Trump transition team official said that the White House is prone to leaks because its staff members are worried about their careers and concerned by Trump's controversy within the FBI.
"It's image-making on the inside and people trying to protect themselves," the transition official said. "There is a deep streak of paranoia among staff ... the war with the FBI has them all scared and throwing each other under the bus."
Meanwhile, former Department of Defense official Dov Zakheim noted that officials within the Department of Justice or FBI could be motivated to leak to journalists out of genuine concern that the Trump administration is attempting to subvert the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign.
“Should the administration be perceived as trying to influence, stall or undermine the investigation, there will be Justice lawyers and/or FBI agents or both who will see it as their patriotic duty and ethical imperative to leak to the press,” Zakheim said.