What happened next, however, was equally dramatic and potentially far more critical for the future of an already frail White House communications staff. Schlapp recoiled in indignation, aghast that anyone would suggest she would betray the president—least of all a more junior aide whom she had given increasing responsibilities within the administration.

Trump sat behind the Resolute Desk, watching the drama unfold in real time. The meeting adjourned shortly after the tense—even for the Trump White House—exchange. But the drama didn’t end there. Two sources recounted that Schlapp remained heated, saying that in separate conversations detailing what happened in the Oval, she referred to Sadler as “a bitch.”

Schlapp vehemently denied saying the word and insinuated that any suggestion she had done so was, itself, a malicious leak designed to undermine her. “I have never used that word to describe anyone on the White House staff,” she said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “This smear by anonymous sources is not fit for print by any reputable news outlet. The leakers should be more concerned about promoting the president’s agenda than trying to take down fellow members of the team.”