President Donald Trump's former communications director indicated in a new interview that if he has one regret from his brief time at the White House, it is not firing the "leakers."
Mike Dubke discussed his experience at the White House, the friendships he made, and the difficulties that led him to resign in an interview with the Washingtonian published Thursday.
Dubke worked at the White House for just 103 days, during which he helped formulate a strategy to get the president's message out to the American people before resigning on May 18. (He ended up staying on until early June.)
When Dubke started, he noticed a division between Trump's former campaign staff and the staffers who came over from the Republican National Committee's communications department.
"Those camps got along well, but they were definitely camps. You've worked in the trenches with folks at the RNC; you're going to know your people there quite well. Same thing with the campaign," Dubke said. "You've been in the trenches with these folks for months fighting a very hard presidential campaign; you're going to know these folks very well."
Dubke, who never worked for the RNC and was not not part of the Trump campaign, felt he could "easily flow into both worlds." He saw that as a"benefit" and worked to unite the staff around the president's agenda.
"I wanted everyone to trust each other," Dubke said. "I had this thought that if we brought in all the junior staffers and the mid-level staffers and the senior staffers from communications and press, and we all worked together, everyone would feel like they were all part of the team."
After his first attempt to bring everyone together, a story broke in Politico detailing specific complaints about Dubke's leadership style. The story included six anonymous sources, and was the start of a series of leaks that, according to Dubke, impaired the White House communications department from strategizing on long-term messaging.
"In my mind, it was ridiculous, and I think what it was, really, was probably a way for some junior staffers to make themselves feel important, by telling a reporter about a private meeting in the White House," Dubke said. "I was just upset."
Dubke wanted to fire the individuals who leaked information about the meeting, but felt he did not have "enough hard evidence" at the time. Still, Dubke regrets not firing the "leakers."
"If I had one regret from my time there, it's that I wish I had done that in a couple of cases," Dubke said.
Torn by the potential to hurt the reputations and careers of his staff members, Dubke sought counsel from his wife.
"I think I know. I'm almost positive," he told her, "but I'm not 100 percent sure. Do I want to ruin somebody's reputation and somebody's livelihood?"
"He was destined to fail," one former Trump adviser told the Washingtonian.
Dubke did find one ally within the White House; he built a trusting relationship with former White House press secretary Sean Spicer that "just kind of happened."
"There was a level of trust between the two of us. I've got his back; he's got my back," Dubke said.
Spicer agreed with Dubke that the leaks were detrimental to the mission of putting out a strong message.
"I hate to say it," Spicer said, "but it became futile."
The former communications director, after serving just over 100 days in his role, ultimately resigned out of frustration.
Dubke said he had a candid conversation with Trump about the "level of frustration I had that things weren't progressing as quickly as I thought that they could."
Dubke said he "appreciated" his relationship with Trump and always felt he was able to speak his mind with the president.