President Donald Trump has declared war on his own intelligence agencies over "un-American" and scandalous leaks, that his aides had been in "constant communication" with Russian intelligence officials during the presidential campaign.
Trump claims the "real scandal" is not the alleged ties to Russia, but politically-motivated leaks from within the US government.
The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
Hours after Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, resigned after misleading the White House over conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US, reports emerged that key campaign aides had also been communicating with Russian officials.
That scandal began after US officials leaked the fact that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the ambassador. Leaks also prompted the controversy over the "dirty dossier" prepared by a former MI6 operative, and have plagued the first weeks of the Trump administration.
Trump's ire over the insider tips to journalists also contrasted with his indirect praise of the disclosure of leaked internal emails from the Clinton campaign made public by WikiLeaks during the lead-up to the election.
"This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign," Trump tweeted Wednesday.
The president was referring to recent stories by The New York Times and The Washington Post. Both outlined questionable - and potentially illegal - contact between his aides and Russia.
An article posted by The New York Times late Tuesday reported that members of his presidential campaign team, as well as other Trump associates, were repeatedly in contact with senior Russian intelligence officials during the campaign. And several articles by The Washington Post reported that Flynn had misled administration officials, including Pence, about his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States over sanctions before Trump was sworn in.
Wednesday was not the first time he had blamed the media and the intelligence community for an unflattering portrait. Shortly before his inauguration last month, amid reports by CNN that Russia may have compiled a dossier of compromising material on him, Trump criticised leaks from the intelligence community, asking on Twitter, "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
Trump defended Flynn during today's press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, saying his former adviser is a "wonderful man".
- with Washington Post