John Dickerson on Anthony Scaramucci's vow to end White House leaks

Last Updated Jul 27, 2017 5:44 PM EDT

The newly-named White House communications director is taking aim at leakers. In a Wednesday night tweet that has since been deleted, Anthony Scaramucci called for federal investigators to look into how Politico obtained his financial disclosure forms. (Politico said Thursday the documents were publicly available, not leaked.)

CBS News chief Washington correspondent John Dickerson said, "Often, leaks are the sign of a White House that's not operating in a healthy way." 

The "Face the Nation" moderator joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss what the constant drip of information out of the White House might mean, why "clamping down" on leaks doesn't really work, and President Trump's recent criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

Dickerson said the problem with cracking down on White House leaks is that "it creates an atmosphere of a little bit of terror. ... It makes everybody kind of look over their shoulder."

Scaramucci appeared to take aim at White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and called the release of his financial forms a felony — which it is not. Scaramucci clarified his earlier post on Twitter, writing: "Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks." 

Dickerson said it's important to distinguish more common leaks from those that could harm national security.

"Harmless leaks are the result of a process that doesn't work. Where people feel like they're not being heard. Where their opinions are being discarded. Where things are happening to their colleagues that irritate them," Dickerson said. "White Houses are healthy when people are all working for a common purpose, but if they see that it's all about self-preservation or that people can make end-runs around the process, then they leak."

Dickerson also pointed out why a White House sometimes actually needs leaks.

"They need relationships with reporters to float things out there without making them official to take care of stories that may look bad but may need explanation off the record. They need a conduit of information with reporters," he said. 

While leaks have been a focus for President Trump since he took office, Dickerson said, "Republicans working on health care right now are talking not about leaks from the White House, they're talking about things that have come out of the president's own mouth, distracting his agenda. What he said to the Boy Scouts, what he's doing with Jeff Sessions — which Republicans on the Hill are scratching their heads about."

President Trump has been publicly critical of his attorney general, prompting criticism from some in his own party.

"It's amazing how confused Republicans are – who are allies of Jeff Sessions, who want the president to do well – by this public situation that's emerged. But Jeff Sessions has been looking into leaks. These are the illegal leaks. These are things of classified information," Dickerson said. 

"This could be a way, if the Justice Department does something publicly, the president could take an off-ramp and say, well, now they're taking care of this thing and everything's OK, it's back on track and I'll move on. But that's if he really wants his attorney general to stay, and we're just not sure whether that's the case or not."