President Donald Trump is reportedly obsessed with the idea of making his own White House aides take polygraph tests in order to root out leakers.
Four unnamed former White House officials told Politico on Tuesday that Trump is “constantly” bringing up polygraph tests in his battle to plug leaks amid the fallout of a whistleblower complaint on his call with the president of Ukraine.
“He wanted to polygraph every employee in the building to unearth who it was who spoke to the press,” one of the officials said.
Trump hasn’t actually ordered White House staff to take polygraph tests yet (his aides have reportedly been discouraging the President from taking such a step), and the threat of him doing so is seen more as a scare tactic.
However, a former official told Politico that his colleagues were “shocked and appalled” by the possibility.
“It’s a pretty big invasion of privacy,” he said.
Trump has reportedly been floating polygraph tests since the early stage of his presidency, when details of former FBI James Comey’s ouster and chaos in the White House were leaked to the press.
And according to a New York Times report last year, Trump administration officials weighed carrying out polygraph tests to unmask the author of a Times op-ed who claimed to be part of a “resistance” against Trump inside the administration.
In a response to Politico on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham denied Trump’s interest in lie detector tests.
“I have been with the President since July 2015 and can say unequivocally that I have never heard suggesting polygraphs as a way to stop leaks,” she said.
Polygraph tests, which measure the participant’s physical responses when answering the test administrator’s questions, are widely seen as unreliable by the scientific community and are rarely admissible in court.