Former President Donald Trump has a long history of both complaining about and being the source of "leaks" within his own administration.
In a new excerpt from his forthcoming book, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that "leaks were a chronic problem" in the Trump administration and asserts that the former was the "biggest leaker of all."
As reported by Business Insider, Esper writes in "A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times", "The individual motivations for the leaks ranged 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. It turned colleague against colleague, department against department, and it was generally bad for the administration and the country."
According to Esper, the leaks "damaged trust" and made people "far more reluctant to speak up and share their views."
"Nobody wanted to see their name in the morning news, especially when the words were so often twisted, misinterpreted, and taken out of context," he added. "In the Trump administration, this could get you blacklisted or fired."
Trump often complained about leakers during his administration and vowed to expose and punish them. In a May 2018 tweet he wrote, "Leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!"
Esper's identification of Trump as a leaker backs up that same assertion by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in his memoir. Last year Christie revealed that Trump told him he leaked to Axios that he was offering Christie the White House chief of staff job in late 2018.
"I did it myself," Trump said when Christie asked him if he knew who leaked the story, according to the book. "It was a great story, right? It was good for you and good for me. It was good," Trump said. Christie says he withdrew himself from consideration to avoid embarrassing Trump by publicly rejecting the offer.
During his presidential campaign Trump initially denied reports that for years he had used the fake names John Barron or John Miller when calling reporters to promote his business interests. He eventually admitted his subterfuge to late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.