White House officials leaking inside information is nothing new. They do it to push certain policies, to spin reporters, to sway public opinion, and sometimes just to gossip. Such off-the-record conversations happen every day — hence all the “senior government officials” quoted in news articles — and as often as not, the quotes come from the very top.
What leakers have tended not to do is tweet.
Nobody knows if the Twitter account @RoguePOTUSStaff is the real deal. Is there really already a secret cabal of Trump haters in the West Wing brazenly exposing the private deliberations of the new president and his senior staff to a national audience — risking not only their jobs and careers but years in prison?
Probably not. That would be nuts. Attempts by various reporters and Twitter users to persuade the culprits to identify themselves privately have so far failed.
Sedition or satire — or, as some have claimed, a disinformation campaign run by Steve Bannon himself — the account certainly makes for interesting reading. It portrays a president who is petulant, confused, and isolated, surrounded by scheming aides vying for power: On one side, chief strategist and senior counselor Bannon, and on the other, Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. The latter group, which the account refers to as the “unholy trinity,” is portrayed as trying to contain the chief executive’s more wild impulses while laying the groundwork for a scenario in which Trump is impeached and Pence assumes office.
That’s assuming Priebus can hold out that long. According to the account, the chief of staff has been mostly outflanked by Bannon and is already considering resigning.
Remember, this is probably all fiction. Literally anyone can set up a Twitter account and claim anything they like. And indeed, at least some of the other rogue accounts that have sprung up in the wake of the 140-character insurrection by various present and former Park Service employees are thought to be the work of people who no longer work in government or perhaps never did.
But in an era when fake news is omnipresent, from Macedonian teenagers and 400-pound hackers to legit state-sponsored psyops, when all bets are off and nobody really knows anything for sure, the very possibility that it might be for real has been enough to win the account a large and loyal following of more than 300,000 users.
Of course, if @RoguePOTUSStaff is real, no amount of followers is likely keep these guys out of jail when their identities come to light.
A few of the account’s more eye-opening claims:
On the judge’s order blocking the immigration policy
On the Putin call
On adding Bannon to the National Security Council
On the California secession movement
On British Prime Minister Theresa May
On the wave of protests
On the possibility of assassination