White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told Fox News on Friday that the administration is spending a great deal of time addressing false and misleading media narratives that are distracting from their other work at hand. Priebus told Fox News that he spends at least half of his time dispelling stories. This effort, he said, distracts the White House from putting into action President Trump’s agenda. "When you have to spend half your day putting out phony stories, that becomes a distraction," he said.
 
Specifically, he spoke to a Wall Street Journal report that the intelligence officials are keeping the president in the dark, while the New York Times alleges that four members of Trump’s political organization had contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign. 
 
Priebus said his contacts in the intelligence agencies claim that the narratives are "grossly overstated" and "inaccurate." He added, "It's totally fake, it's totally false." He also floated the idea that journalists are actually fabricating stories about Trump, while he confessed that the White House does not know from where the stories originate. "They might be making them up," he said. "There might be some bad actors in the intelligence community or some hold-overs, nobody knows."
 
Currently, at the National Security Council, the staff level is at a historic high at approximately 350. During the Reagan administration, that number stood at approximately 75. Republicans unsuccessfully called for a staff reduction during the Obama administration. Some observers hold that the leaks involving former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have originated at the National Security Council and/or National Security Agency.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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