President Donald Trump chastised the FBI Friday morning for being “totally unable” to locate the source of media leaks, renewing his campaign against government sources who have given damaging information about his fledgling administration to the press.
“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,” Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into multiple posts. “They can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW.”
The president’s remark comes on the same day that at least two cable news channels, CNN and MSNBC, devoted significant airtime to reports that the FBI had refused to publicly dispute news that individuals associated with Trump had been in touch with Russians known to the intelligence community during last year’s presidential campaign.
Although Trump is just four weeks into his presidency, media reports based on anonymous government sources have already done damage to his administration. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign last week after excerpts of his phone call with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. were published by The Washington Post. Flynn had said he did not discuss easing sanctions recently imposed on Russia with its ambassador, but was forced to back away from that denial once the Post report showed that he had.
Other leaks have created diplomatic obstacles for the White House, including published excerpts of Trump’s conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, traditionally nations with extremely friendly ties to the U.S. In the former, Trump seemingly threatened to send the U.S. military into Mexico to deal with “bad hombres down there.”
In the latter, Trump reportedly told the Australian prime minister that an agreement he had reached with former President Barack Obama was “the worst deal ever” and that one of the individuals the U.S. agreed to take under the deal could be the “next Boston bombers.” Published excerpts from the conversation also said Trump told his Australian counterpart that their talk had been his “the worst call by far.”
The Washington Post, which first reported the details of the Australia call, reported that Trump ended it by hanging up the phone, a detail that the Australian prime minister denied.
“Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!” Trump wrote in a flurry of posts to Twitter last week. “The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!”