President Donald Trump continued his rhetorical assault against the government leaks that have already proven damaging to his weeks-old administration, putting both “low-life leakers” and the media they interact with on notice.
“Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning, adding in a second post that “the spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!”
It is the second consecutive day that Trump has been critical of leakers, a tirade that followed the resignation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn earlier this week.
Flynn, a longtime ally of Trump’s and the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, admitted in his resignation letter that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about the nature of a telephone conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Flynn had denied discussing easing U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador and it wasn’t until excerpts of that conversation were published by The Washington Post that Flynn was forced to back away from that denial.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump ultimately asked Flynn for his resignation because the national security adviser no longer had the trust of the president. But when Trump was asked about Flynn during a press conference on Wednesday, the president blamed the media for his ouster and said Flynn “is a wonderful man” who was “treated very, very unfairly.”
“From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It’s criminal action, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time before me, but now it’s really going on,” Trump said at the news conference. “People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton. I think it’s very, very unfair what’s happened to Gen. Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that were illegally — I stress that — illegally leaked. Very, very unfair.”
Both before and since taking office, Trump has regularly blamed leaks on the intelligence community, once likening it to “Nazi Germany” following the publication of a dossier containing unverified but scandalous allegations. On Wednesday, with reports once again swirling about ties between top Trump allies and the Kremlin, the president compared the intelligence community to Russia.
While Trump has made plugging leaks, or at least complaining about them publicly, his mission as of late, the president has not always been averse to such practices. During the presidential campaign, Trump regularly and enthusiastically drew on hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and other high-level members of the party to attack his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
And at a press conference last July, Trump encouraged Russian hackers to search for emails deleted from the private email server that Clinton maintained during her tenure as secretary of state.