...Trump's volatile behavior has created an environment ripe for leaks from his executive agencies and even within his White House. And while leaks typically involve staffers sabotaging each other to improve their own standing or trying to scuttle policy ideas they find genuinely problematic, Trump's 2-week-old administration has a third category: leaks from White House and agency officials alarmed by the president's conduct. [...]While some of the leaks are based on opposition to his policies -- the travel ban on all refugees and on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations, for instance -- many appear motivated by a belief that Trump's words, deeds and tweets pose a genuine threat.
The Huffington Post highlighted an anecdote last night that's apparently making the rounds: Donald Trump was confused about whether a strong dollar or a weak one is better for the economy, so he placed a 3 a.m. phone call to his national security advisor, Mike Flynn, who didn't have an answer.It prompted Poltiico's Michael Crowley to joke that we've gone from focusing on a president fielding a scary 3 a.m. phone call to considering a president placing a scary 3 a.m. phone call.But as interesting as the anecdote is -- a president really should have some basic familiarity with monetary policy, and he should know not to call a retired general with such questions -- the fact that we're even aware of the alleged incident is a reminder that this White House leaks like a sieve. As the Huffington Post's piece added, what we're hearing from Trump World frequently makes the president seem like a confused and intemperate child, but members of his team just keep leaking anyway.
Throughout the campaign, there were countless reports on aides dishing about the Republican candidate and the turmoil that unfolded behind the scenes. Voters -- enough of them, anyway -- didn't much care, and Trump is now in the Oval Office, where he has staffers who continue to offer unflattering behind-the-scenes insights.The Huffington Post's report, for example, is the result of insights "from individuals in executive agencies and in the White House itself."Four weeks into Trump's presidency, what's surprising is how unsurprising this has become. Members of the Republican's team started sharing embarrassing insights literally within the first couple of days after Trump's inauguration. As regular readers know, this has continued, more or less non-stop. Vox's Yochi Dreazen recently noted that many of Trump's own aides "seem to dislike him as much Democrats do."A Washington Post piece last week, which characterized the White House leaks as "totally bananas," raised the possibility that "there are people at senior levels within the administration who have major concerns about Trump and his fitness for office. In the long tradition of whistleblowers, they [may be] using selective leaks to make sure that people know what is really going on inside the White House."I'm not in a position to know the leakers' motivation -- though if aides fear Trump's unfit after four weeks, that's something the country needs to talk about -- but it's safe to say there's no modern precedent for a White House dishing quite this much, this early, in ways that make the sitting president sound like a buffoon.Postscript: In case anyone's curious, the benefits of a strong vs. weak dollar depend on circumstances and policy goals. As Kevin Drum noted, a weak dollar "is good for boosting exports and reducing the trade deficit, so that's probably what Trump was looking for."