- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The White House communications aide who sparked days of bad press when she dismissed Sen. John McCain as “dying anyway” still had her job Tuesday, but the staffer who leaked the remark to the news media might not be as lucky.

An internal investigation was launched at the White House to identify the leaker, an official told The Washington Times.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she expected a personnel shakeup, noting that the entire staff works at the pleasure of the president.

“It’s not so much leaking as using the media to shiv each other, and that was going on quite a bit at the beginning of this administration and it’s less so now,” she said on Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

The White House has weathered six days of rebuke and stood by the aide, Kelly Sadler, after she said in a closed-door meeting that Mr. McCain’s opposition to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel didn’t mater because “he was dying anyway.”

Mr. McCain, 81, is battling brain cancer and has been absent from the Senate for months. His colleagues have suggested the Arizona Republican might never return.

A frequent political opponent of the president, Mr. McCain reportedly requested that Mr. Trump not attend his funeral.

For Mr. Trump, the leak — executed by one of Mrs. Sadler’s coworkers to sabotage her career — was worse than the mean-spirited prognosis.

He vowed to find the “traitors and cowards” behind the leaks.

The White House also bucked repeated calls for a public apology from Mrs. Sadler, who did apologize privately to the McCain family.

Mrs. Sadler previously worked in the editorial department at The Washington Times.

Despite several Republican Senators calling for a public apology, they didn’t personally deliver that message to Mr. Trump when they had the chance at a luncheon with the president at the Capitol, said participants.

“We talked purely policy,” said Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican.

He insisted that senators were not afraid to ask the president about his aide disrespecting their ailing colleague.

“I’m not afraid of the president. I like the president,” said Mr. Kennedy. “He can’t eat me and he can’t kill me. I’m not afraid of anybody who can’t eat me and can’t kill me.”

The Trump administration has been plagued by leaks from the start, from details of his conversations inside the Oval Office to airing of the backbiting among top White House officials.

Some of it was perpetrated by Obama administration holdovers and so-called “deep state” government workers intent on undermining Mr. Trump. Their dirty work included divulging information that helped fuel theories about Trump campaign collusion with Russia that continue to dog the president.

The most serious leaks, including classified or sensitive information from the intelligence community, have largely subsided.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in November that the Justice Department had opened 27 investigations into leaks of classified information.

Last year, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer ordered random checks of staffers’ cell phones in search of leakers.


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