For all of his obsessing over leaks throughout his presidency, then-President Donald Trump himself was apparently the top offender, according to former Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s memoir, “A Sacred Oath.”
Per Insider and an advanced copy of the book obtained by TPM, Esper wrote in his book that the Trump White House, cutthroat as ever, was rife with incidents of self-interested leaking, with staffers’ supposed reasoning ranging from “advancing a preferred policy outcome to enhancing the leaker’s own role or credentials to currying favor with the President.”
“It was a noxious behavior learned from the top. The President was the biggest leaker of all,” the former Pentagon chief wrote.
“It turned colleague against colleague, department against department, and it was generally bad for the administration and the country,” he continued.
Esper was fired as Secretary of Defense two days after the election was called for Joe Biden. In his book, Esper wrote about how chief of staff Mark Meadows called him, informing him of the firing, “minutes before” Trump tweeted it.
The former Pentagon leaded added that he wasn’t sure what precisely led to his firing, but that “anonymous leaks” from those seeking to discredit him — and believed by Trump and others — played a big role.
The Trump administration was plagued by leaks from the very beginning of Trump’s presidency, prompting him to demand that the Justice Department investigate the matter. Under his leadership, the DOJ received a record number of referrals on leaking for criminal investigation.
It was revealed last year that the Trump DOJ went as far as issuing a grand jury subpoena to Apple in 2018 seeking phone and email data belonging to Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) as part of its leak probe.
TPM’s Josh Kovensky contributed to this report.