Swamp the drain

President Donald Trump is furious about leaks. Which means his press secretary, Sean Spicer, is furious about leaks, too.

Spicer last week rounded up about a dozen White House communications staffers for an “emergency meeting” and ordered them to hand over their phones to be examined for clues that could unmask leakers, Politico reports.

Spicer also warned the attendees against leaking news about the meeting and the phone checks. Politico got that, too.

Trump’s tirades against leaks extend beyond the White House staff to the FBI and intelligence agencies. In Sunday’s installment on Twitter, Trump wrote:

“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!”

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Who isn’t complaining on Twitter about leaks? Vice President Mike Pence, for one. No one told Pence when Trump and top aides learned National Security Adviser Mike Flynn had deceived the vice president about a call with the Russian ambassador.

Pence was clued in on the night that The Washington Post published its story about that, based on sources. Flynn was forced to resign four days later.

Loose lips didn’t sink ship

When CBS News reported Feb. 18 that Trump’s nominee for Navy secretary, Philip Bilden, was likely to withdraw, Spicer tweeted that the sources were wrong and Bilden was “100% committed to being the next SECNAV.”

Bilden withdrew Sunday. The wealthy investor said his decision was “driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests,” according to a statement from Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Similar issues forced the withdrawal of Trump’s nominee for Army secretary, billionaire investment banker Vincent Viola.

Budget: Up in arms

The first federal budget proposal from President Donald Trump goes to agencies on Monday. Fans and foes of the administration will be none too surprised that it includes a rise in military spending, no big changes to Social Security or Medicare, and a cut in funds for such agencies at the Republican-targeted Environmental Protection Agency. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will address tax changes when he goes before Congress on Tuesday.

GOP split on prosecutor

A White House spokeswoman equivocated Sunday on calls by Democrats and some Republicans for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself and let a special prosecutor oversee probes into Trump campaign contacts with Russia.

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“I don’t think we’re there yet. Let’s work through this process,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC News’ “This Week.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has said Sessions should step aside because he is a Trump appointee who was part of the campaign. But Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “I think that’s way, way getting ahead of ourselves.”

The new Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez, said on CNN’s “State of the Union”: “What we need to be looking at is whether this election was rigged by Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin.”

Newsday’s Emily Ngo has a roundup from the Sunday talk shows.

The take-away: Right stuff

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Trump’s speech Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference seemed to bury last year’s sporadic “oh-he’s-not-really-a-conservative” talk, but the solidarity remains to be tested, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

SEAL’s dad snubbed Trump

Bill Owens, the father of a Navy SEAL killed in a raid against al-Qaida in Yemen last month, refused to meet with Trump as the president and the family awaited the body’s arrival at Dover Air Force Base — and the grieving dad wants an investigation into the “stupid mission.”

Owens told the Miami Herald that he took offense when the Trump administration slammed critics of the raid as dishonoring the memory of his son, Chief Special Warfare Officer William “Ryan” Owens.

“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” he said.

One reason he didn’t want to meet the president, Owens said, was Trump’s attack last year on Khizr and Ghazala Khan — the Gold Star parents of a U.S. Army officer — who spoke at the Democratic convention last summer.

Trump budget plan boosts military

A preliminary budget blueprint from Trump on Monday will instruct federal agencies to boost military spending while slashing outlays for the Environmental Protection Agency, among other departments, The New York Times reported.

There would be no reductions to the largest entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, the report said, citing four administration officials.

Trump and his egg-emies

Spokeswoman Sanders’ core explanation of why Trump will decline to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner passes the fact-check test.

“I think it’s kind of naive of us to think that we can all walk into a room for a couple of hours and pretend that some of that tension isn’t there,” she said.

She went on to offer a tasty analogy: “You know, one of the things we say in the South: If a Girl Scout egged your house, would you buy cookies from her?”

The fix isn’t in

Republicans among the governors who held weekend meetings in Washington are having as hard a time as their counterparts in Congress in bridging differences over how to carry out the promised repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

“There’s a lot of ideas, a lot of moving parts, a lot of governors with different ideological perspectives — all of that is in the caldron right now,” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said Saturday.

Trump hosted a dinner for the governors from both parties Sunday night at the White House and tweeted that health care was among the topics for discussion.

What else is happening

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said it was a mistake for Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to try to enlist FBI help in spinning the Russia story “because perception matters.” Christie spoke on “State of the Union.”
  • Hard-line tea partyers could present the biggest congressional obstacle to replacing Obamacare, Ohio Gov. John Kasich warns.
  • An internal report by intelligence analysts at the Department of Homeland Security seems to undercut a Trump defense of its original travel ban — that people from the seven targeted countries pose a heightened threat of terrorism, The New York Times reported.
  • After Trump called his immigration crackdown a “military operation,” DHS Secretary John Kelly said it was not. After Trump suggested the United States was no longer committed to a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said we still are. Cleaning up after the boss has become a pattern for Trump Cabinet members, The Washington Post reports.
  • Trump’s campaign brag of having “the best temperament” isn’t ringing true yet with voters — only 18% in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll give his demeanor good marks, while 55 percent rate it as poor. His overall approval stood at 44%, with 48% disapproval.
  • Even some Iowans express disappointment with Trump's performance so far.
  • Some Trump supporters aren’t buying the explanations from Nordstrom and other stores that they dropped Ivanka Trump products because of slumping sales, and so they are staging boycotts, just as anti-Trump activists have tried to force Trump-branded goods off the shelves, The Washington Post reports.
  • Lawyers for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl said Sunday that they will ask an Army appeals court to dismiss charges against him, asserting he can’t get a fair trial because of Trump’s repeated denunciation of him as a “traitor” during the campaign, according to Reuters.