The Daily Beast

Trump Gives Putin a Pass on Bounties So He Can Target Leakers Instead

Carlos Barria/Reuters

In the days since The New York Times broke the news on U.S. intelligence examining claims of Russian bounties being offered to kill American military personnel in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump has turned his ire not at the Russian government, but instead on two of his favorite enemies: the news media and their confidential sources.

According to two people familiar with the matter, the president in recent days has privately expressed—“rather loudly,” in the words of one of the sources—his desire for a leak investigation into how that story ended up in the Times, and his wish for the leaker or leakers to face a heavy prison sentence.

This happens as the president publicly trashes the Times reporting as yet another “hoax” generated by his foes to damage him, and as the Trump administration does everything it can to publicly shame the leakers of the classified information. “You may seek to undermine our President but in fact, you undermine our country’s safety and our country’s security,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday at a press briefing, in a scripted warning that was quickly clipped and blasted out on Trump’s official social media feeds.

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