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02Feb17


White House says it's investigating leaks


The White House says it is investigating leaks about President Trump's calls with foreign leaders.

"We're looking into the situation, yes, and it's very concerning," press secretary Sean Spicer said when asked about the leaks. "Some of them are done in a way that the release of that information is clearly a breach of a lot of protocols and laws."

Spicer did not reveal any further information about the nature of the investigation.

The spokesman said Trump is personally troubled that the details of his talks with foreign counterparts have become public.

"Of course, he's concerned by it. The idea that you can't have a conversation without that information getting out is concerning," Spicer said. "We're trying to conduct serious business on behalf of the country."

Reuters reported that during a January call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump had to pause to ask an aide about an arms-reduction treaty, called New START, before condemning the 2010 deal.

Spicer disputed the report, saying that Trump was familiar with the treaty but was asking his team for an "opinion" on the subject.

"It wasn't like he didn't know what was being said," Spicer told a group of reporters. "He wanted an opinion on something, which is very different."

Spicer stopped short of disputing other major details of the account, but said "I'm not sure I would have characterized it the way" the news wire did.

The Reuters report was based on the account of two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

The White House has been dogged by a series of leaks of Trump's conversations with world leaders.

A Washington Post report on the president's call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sparked worldwide shock; it revealed Trump called a bilateral agreement on refugees brokered by President Obama "the worst deal ever" and also told his counterpart their conversation was "the worst call by far" of those he had had with other world leaders, before cutting the conversation short.

Australia is a major U.S. ally and close intelligence-sharing partner.

Parts of conversations with the leaders of Mexico and France have also become public.

Spicer has previously said that the White House would investigate the leaks.

[Source: By Jordan Fabian, The Hill, Washington, 02Feb17]

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