Federal bureaucrats opposed to implementing President Donald Trump’s policies are creating personal email accounts and using encrypted messages to communicate and collaborate as they push back against the new administration, Politico reports.
Just as former Secretary of State used a private e-mail server, whose contents she later wiped, in an attempt to shield some of her communications from the government and from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, bureaucratic rebels are using external communications and applications to create what amounts to a shadow administration. But unlike Clinton, or perhaps having learned her lessons, they are encrypting their communications, using secure messaging apps like Signal.
Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology as well as more old-fashioned approaches — such as private face-to-face meetings — to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent.
The goal is to get their message across while not violating any rules covering workplace communications, which can be monitored by the government and could potentially get them fired.
At the EPA, a small group of career employees — numbering less than a dozen so far — are using an encrypted messaging app to discuss what to do if Trump’s political appointees undermine their agency’s mission to protect public health and the environment, flout the law, or delete valuable scientific data that the agency has been collecting for years, sources told POLITICO.
The effort is part of what Breitbart News has called the “coup of the bureaucrats.” There are several steps the Trump administration could take to clamp down on it. One involves internal investigations, leading to disciplinary action — though that could also lower morale and drain administrative resources. Another is to set an example by firing high-profile rebels — like acting Attorney General Sally Yates — though that does not solve the problem completely. The Trump administration could also appeal to former President Barack Obama to stop encouraging protests and to urge bureaucrats to do their jobs — though it seems unlikely that President Trump would want to make such an appeal, or that President Obama would agree.
The simplest solution may simply be to cut or close federal government departments that seek to operate independently of the executive. With Republican budget hawks in charge of Congress, the Trump administration might have a unique opportunity to fulfill conservatives’ long-standing ambition to reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy and the scope of its powers.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.