May 16, 2018, 12:25 PM ET

White House says 'couple of bad actors' responsible for latest leaks

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had harsh words for members of her own staff Wednesday following leaks about an aide's callous private remarks about ailing Sen. John McCain that drew a barrage of bipartisan criticism.

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"I can tell you there are a couple of bad actors," Sanders said in an interview on 'Fox and Friends.' "I think it is disgusting and some of the most shameful behavior that you could ever engage in."

Sanders' comments followed President Donald Trump's own personal condemnation of West Wing leakers on Monday, who he described in a tweet as "traitors and cowards."

The White House has been under fire from Democrats and Republicans who have called for a public apology to Sen. McCain after White House aide Kelly Sadler said McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to be CIA Director didn't matter because he’s “dying anyway."

Sanders then convened a Friday meeting where she was described as "on the verge of tears" as she scolded staff for the leak of the comment, according to multiple senior White House officials.

The White House has since sought to shift attention away from Sadler's comments and to the leak itself, with Sanders again pressed during her Fox and Friends interview why the White House won't apologize to the McCain family.

“I'm not going to get into the back and forth on this, I think it's been addressed. We are dealing with this matter internally,” Sanders said.

While Sanders didn't offer any specific examples, she said in the past she has caught staffers for leaking and described them as "cowards" who abused their opportunity to work in the White House.

"I have personally fired people over leaking before," Sanders said. "And we certainly would be very willing to do so again."

In an interview with Fox News Monday night, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was asked if she thought there would be any personnel changes in the White House as a result of recent leaks, to which she replied, "I do actually, yes I do."

But when asked Wednesday by reporters if there were any departures expected soon, Sanders didn't answer one way or the other.

"We’ll keep you posted if we have any personnel announcements," Sanders said.

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  • Chuck

    The bad behavior is the remark about Senator McCain, not the leak you moron!!

  • Ross Doob

    How could there be bad actors in this administration if Trump promised he would hire only the best people? Either he is lying about hiring the best, or lying about there being bad actors. Unless off course the bad actors are actually the best people, and want to expose what a lousy leader Trump is.

  • cephalo

    "I think it is disgusting and some of the most shameful behavior that you could ever engage in."

    Informing the American public of the administrations misdeeds, even at the threat of losing your job, is not merely commendable, its heroic. Sander's comment shows just how completely upside down are the morals of the people inside. We are being commanded by truly criminal minds to our collective doom.

  • hopesprings52

    Disgusting. They can't even apologize to the McCains for that outrageous slur against this good man. What's right is right, and Trump and his mob are wrong, wrong, wrong.

  • hucky01

    Blame the "leaker" and not the reason for it! How typical of how low this White House is. The employees of the White House are paid with American Tax dollars! We should have the right to hear non-confidential comments that are totally out of line and without a shred of decency!

  • John Szulewski

    "The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media / ...leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!" Can't have one without the other? I don't get it.

  • Erwin Schrodinger

    "I can tell you there are a couple of bad actors," Sanders said in an interview on 'Fox and Friends.' "I think it is disgusting and some of the most shameful behavior that you could ever engage in."

    Really?!? That (leaking non-confidential and deplorable comments about a war hero) is what you think of as the most shameful behavior that you could ever engage in? Not the comments themselves? Not any number of activities that hurt the country or its citizens? Wow!

  • Kobrakai7272

    Can we assume that Mr Trump is hard on the heels of the agents in the FBI's New York field office who were leaking information about the Hillary Clinton email investigation for months? Heck, they were leaking to, among others, Rudy Giuliani so they shouldn't be hard to find, right?

    Oh, Mr Trump is only after leakers who leak things that are personally embarrassing to him? Got it. My mistake.

  • Thomas

    A tire only needs one leak to stop a car.

  • ohyes2011

    Shaking my head .... she doesn't see the hypocrisy of what she is saying!

  • Lee Thompson

    Sara, 'dear' - "Shameful" applies to the white house as a whole.

  • Omar Majiet

    The left side of her face is out of proportion to the right? or is it vica verse, i am not so sure..

  • TexasVulcan

    Insults told in private are fine. Leaking them is bad. How far we have fallen.

  • Steve1956

    If I woke up and rolled over and seen that next to me I would quit drinking. I think its a man in drag.

  • Dick Enya

    Everyone in the donnie administration is a bad actor. Thanks "conservatives" for selling out the country.

  • Oak Kay

    Man it looks like the constant lies she has been spewing out for months now have really taken a toll on her face as she now looks like she is turning into Gollum from LOTR!

  • rightened

    The most shameful behavior is that THERE HAS BEEN NO APOLOGY.

    One simple "we shouldn't have had someone say that" would've been sufficient--because it's true. And therein lies the problem, NOT with "leaks." The problem is being unable to acknowledge the unethical behaviors around you. The fact that someone was ethical enough to share this outlandish remark with the country shows that the environment they're in is toxic, unsustainable and needs airing out and a dose of sanity.

    And pity the innocent who are being called "bad actors" when they have nothing to do with this. But then again, this administration is all about persecution of the innocent.

  • Bud Simpson

    "I think it is disgusting and some of the most shameful behavior that you could ever engage in."

    I wonder how shameful she thinks bragging about being a woman molester, or dodging the draft, or scamming students at Trump U., or failing to live up to contractual agreements, or lying on a daily basis...I'm going to bet she won't have a problem with any of those.

  • Tegbessou Géléhéso

    White House eyes 'a couple of bad actors' for recent leaks... to support this headline they use a picture of Sarah Sanders and her notorious squinting right eye... very clever

  • Omar Majiet

    This lady looks somewhat odd. Trumps propaganda mouthpiece.

  • Michael McCall

    Please! Please! Please! Not To Close To This sanders Woman When You Show Photos!!! Some of us wake up in the middle of the night, scroll a little and doze off back to sleep. But seeing a picture this close of huckabee often leads to sleeplessness!

  • B-K KnightRider

    Oh the irony of Sarah not understanding that she and Trump are the two worst actors in the bunch.

  • B-K KnightRider

    Is she REALLY delusional enough to believe that there are only a couple of bad actors? Of is she simply lying about that? The reporters and pundits/analysts I see/hear talking about say they have way more than two sources because almost everyone is leaking to someone.

  • wm97

    She's right! They should keep it a secret how disgusting they are!

  • mellack

    Didn't Trump promise the most transparent administration ever?

  • Joe Mac Pherson

    "I can tell you there are a couple of bad actors" - Sarah Huckabee Sanders
    And the worst actor of all in your vicious circle, is a former television personality who hosted a show called The Apprentice.

  • MAGreenA

    I think they are rather good actors and trying to tell Americans the truth. We can't get that from the Trump administration.

  • Prophet With Honor

    Again I ask Sarah to tell us the names of leakers she has "personally" fired. Put up or...

  • SittinOnTheBeach

    It must be horrible to work for this administration. I can only assume that the couple of people with morals probably believe leaking is the only way they can show the world how hideous this administration is.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    A perfect example of a scrooed up WH.

    They will fire someone who should be considered a patriot and will reward the vulgarian who make on the most despicable comments ever made in the WH. This entire administration is a disgrace to all of us.

  • southwestfan

    But Wikileaks...they are A-OK!!!

  • YouMayBanMeButYouCan'tBanIdeas

    The real bad actors, traitors and cowards are those who would attempt to conceal these sorts of sordid revelations from the American people. As off-putting as these facts may be, we deserve to know the truth about what goes on inside the depths of the swamp. Full transparency must be achieved one way or another in order to expose all that goes on within the most corrupt presidential administration in US history.

  • IT-Worker-Since-1990

    Yes, there are a couple of bad actors in the White House starting with Herr Drumpf himself!

  • Debra

    Sarah should know all about "disgusting" and "shameful" behavior. Her boss indulges in it 24/7.

  • Hemp4Profit

    ". . . in order to make us look as bad as possible." You're doing a swell job of making yourselves look horrible, Trump and friends. You don't need the media to do that. The stories just write themselves.

  • Bill Toone

    A Trump presidency can only survive shrouded in total secrecy. Transparency will show what a mafioso figure he is. Can't have the American people seeing that.

  • unusual

    Once again the Trump administration demonstrates that they just don't get it. It is not the person who "leaked" the story who is a traitor and a coward - it is the person who made the comment in the first place. Instead of focusing on training their staff not to make disparaging comments about other people, especially a person who happens to be a war hero and a member of Congress and who has spent his entire adult life in service to this nation - they are focusing not on the comment itself but on the person who "leaked" it. In other words, they need a scapegoat to blame to keep them from looking as bad as they really are. Funny thing is, this kind of response just makes them look even worse.

  • kritikosman

    A couple!? The whole of the Trump apparatus are bad actors--including the mad man himself(TRUMP).

  • John Michael Davis

    If there are indeed 2 "bad actors", why aren't they gone already?

  • Forward forward

    So they would fire the person who admitted that someone in the administration made that disgusting comment, and keep the person who said it?!?
    Most corrupt, amoral administration in US history.

  • notagain

    on the verge of tears? lol

  • Rascal262

    One bad actor don't spoil the whole bunch, girl
    -- Donny Osmond

  • John Galt

    CDC: When present, signs and symptoms of STD are nonspecific, so other reproductive ... is similar to PID and the diagnosis necessitates initial hospital admission... Well let's hope that Melania recovers quickly from her renal problem before the leaks about what caused it come out.

  • Ron Fuller

    Bad actors? well one that we know of....trump!

  • Prophet With Honor

    Who? Who did you personally fire?

  • Peppapeace

    We have a fake Administration.

  • RichardBroderickJr

    "We have not seen china's demands yet....."

    Trump is a Liar

    .

  • Red Hawk

    With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!=== More like courageous patriots, Cpl Bone Spur