On Sunday, Axios published some of the big "red flags" contained in a "massive" leak of Trump transition team vetting documents, including notes about several high-profile names, among them former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Gen. David Petraeus, Department of Energy Sec. Rick Perry, and Fox News host Laura Ingraham. The White House has responded by defending the administration's record and slapping the "disgruntled, establishment, D.C. swamp creature" responsible for the "cowardly leaks."
"Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to 'Axios on HBO' identify a host of 'red flags' about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government," Axios reported Sunday. The outlet published some of the vetting documents, redacting personal details "that weren't newsworthy, information from spurious sources, and material the vetting team described as rumors about contenders’ personal lives, and contact and identification information."
Axios argues that the leaked information "matters" because it "sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government." Among the "highlights" noted by Axios from the leaked document are:
- Nikki Haley (chosen to become Trump's ambassador to the U.N.): Was noted as saying Trump is everything "we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten."
- Rudy Giuliani (considered for Secretary of State): Team created "a seperate 25-page document titled 'Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier' with copious accounting of his 'foreign entanglements.'"
- Gen. David Petraeus (considered for Secretary of State and National Security Adviser): "Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture."
- Rick Perry (chosen to be Energy Secretary): "Perry described Trumpism as a 'toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition.'"
- Laura Ingraham (considered for White House press secretary): "Ingraham said people should wear diapers instead of sharing bathrooms with transgender people."
- Scott Pruitt, (chosen as EPA Administrator but lost the position "because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists"): Section of vetting form titled "allegations of coziness with big energy companies."
- Tom Price (chosen as Human Services Secretary, from which he resigned among a chartered flight scandal): Vetting documents cited "criticisms of management ability" and "Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price's Leadership Of The House Budget Committee."
- Rex Tillerson (chosen as first Secretary of State): "Tillerson's Russia ties go deep."
Along with various responses from some of the people featured in the documents, Axios published the response from the White House which made no apologies and pulled no punches.
"President Trump has assembled an incredible team throughout the federal government who — in spite of 93% negative news coverage — has accomplished undeniable successes like tax cuts, record employment levels, a booming economy ... rebuilding the military and crushing ISIS," Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Axios. "President Trump has done more to improve the lives of the American people in two years — than past presidents have done in eight — and no disgruntled, establishment, D.C. swamp creature's cowardly leaks can change that."
Among those who responded to Axios' request for comment was former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was unceremoniously ousted from the transition team, which he blames on Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon. "Oh it's fascinating, and by the way the interesting part of this, which shows you how disorganized they were, was that they had an entire vice presidential vetting file on me," said Christie. "Had all of my tax returns, had all of the stuff from the U.S. attorney years and my years as governor. That's what makes this even funnier, that they would go through this."