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White House Searches West Wing for Unauthorized Phones

16 May 2018

"To be honest, it probably falls into a couple of categories", one current White House official tells me.

The White House announced it was changing its policy on using personal cell phones in January, after explosive excerpts from author Michael Wolff's book on the Trump White House portrayed a chaotic, uncontrolled atmosphere. "Leaking is information warfare; it's strategic and tactical - strategic to drive narrative, tactical to settle scores", the source said.

Though the ban prompted widespread frustration among staffers, most abided by it, simply because there wasn't an alternative. Another official told Axios that leaking is a form of self-perseveration in this White House, which he referred to as a "Mexican standoff". The White House declined to comment.

CBS News confirmed that White House staffers must leave their devices in a designated locker room when they arrive at work each day, according to sources familiar with the procedures. Each locker has a key, which official said take a little jiggling to remove. Staffers, however, visit their lockers intermittently throughout the day to check and reply to their messages. The lockers buzz and chirp constantly from 6 a.m.to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"This is not a ban based on the honor system", Collins continued. Sweeps are carried out to track down personal devices that have made it past the lobby and into the building.

In addition to the device lock-ups, the White House has also deployed devices that can detect personal phones and devices in unauthorized areas, Alemany says.

In the early days of the ban, staffers would forget, or didn't realize that the ban included Apple watches.

If no one says they have a phone, the men search using the handheld devices, which can determine what kind of device is in the room. First, he called it fake news, and then he denounced the leaks that were coming out.

In the Axios piece, Swan spoke to various leakers who he engages with regularly to figure out what motivates them.

White House Searches West Wing for Unauthorized Phones