Earnest Dodges Question on Whether Obama Officials Have Been Involved in Intel Leaks

March 5, 2017

Former White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest would not give a definitive answer Sunday when asked if any Obama loyalists have been behind recent intelligence leaks in the Trump administration.

ABC host Martha Raddatz referenced the accusation of President Trump's deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, that former President Barack Obama and his staffers are behind leaks against Trump officials. When confronted with this accusation, Earnest chose not to answer the question, instead praising the intelligence community.

"Martha, what I can tell you is that the men and women of our intelligence community are patriots," Earnest said. "And these are professionals who have served presidents in both administrations and they took an oath to protect this country and set aside their own political views."

"And that's what the men and women of our intelligence community do, and they should be lauded for that," Earnest added.

Earnest then took an apparent jab at the Trump administration, saying that the intelligence community does not deserve "to be attacked or accused of having a political motive."

Several Trump advisers have urged the president to fire political appointees from the Obama administration who are still serving in government, Politico reported Thursday.

A number of his [Trump's] advisers believe Obama officials are behind the leaks and are seeking to undermine his presidency, with just the latest example coming from reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and apparently misled senators about the interactions during his confirmation hearing.

That was coupled with a New York Times story that Obama appointees spread information about the investigation into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia in an attempt to create a paper trail about the probe. Trump's aides have also blamed Obama appointees for other damaging leaks, like Trump's erratic phone calls with foreign leaders.

"His playbook should be to get rid of the Obama appointees immediately," said former House Speaker and Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich. "There are an amazing number of decisions that are being made by appointees that are totally opposed to Trump and everything he stands for. Who do you think those people are responding to?"