WH: Media puts national security at risk by publishing classified info
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday accused reporters of putting national security at risk by publishing classified information.
Revelations that former staff secretary Rob Porter received an interim security clearance despite an FBI investigation that turned up allegations of past spousal abuse has led to questions about who at the White House is handling sensitive information.
But Sanders suggested the media is feigning its concern about the handling of top secret information within the White House, while at the same time putting national security at risk by publishing leaked information from intelligence sources.
“We’re taking every step we can to protect classified information,” Sanders said. “Frankly, if you guys have such concern about leaking classified information, there’s plenty of it that has leaked out of the Hill, out of other communities, well beyond the White House walls. If you guys have real concerns about leaking out classified information, look around this room. You’re the ones that publish classified information and put national security at risk. That doesn’t come from this White House.”
Porter resigned last week, though the White House continues to be consumed by controversy for initially defending him.
Last week, Sanders praised Porter’s work at the White House even after pictures of his former wife were published online, showing her with a black eye. Trump spoke glowingly about Porter from the Oval Office several days after he had resigned.
The controversy around Porter has raised questions about the White House vetting process. As staff secretary, Porter reviewed sensitive material and made decisions on what information made it to the president’s desk.
Reporters questioned Sanders on Monday about when the White House found out about his background and whether he would have been susceptible to blackmail because of his past.
Sanders shot back, saying that the media publishing classified information is the real scandal.
“We take every precaution possible to protect classified information and certainly to protect national security,” Sanders said. “It is the president’s number one priority, protecting the citizens of this country. It is why we spend every single day doing everything we can to do that. And I think if anyone is publishing or putting out publicly classified information, it is members of the press, not the White House.”