WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump, facing a major crisis because of contacts his aides had with Russian officials, is shooting the messengers breaking the stories on Wednesday, attacking the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC in Twitter posts.
“This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign,” Trump said in one of a series of related posts.
The Trump White House just four weeks old, is scrambling in the wake of the resignation of Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser.
On the hot front burner Wednesday: After receding into the background in the wake of the election, Russia is sizzling. Did Russia interfere in the U.S. elections? What were the nature of Trump aides contacts with Russia?
What otherwise would be on the front burner: Trump’s first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes place at the White House today. Netanyahu had a frosty relationship with former President Barack Obama. Trump and Netanyahu should get along personally better, though it’s not clear yet exactly what the Trump policy on settlements will be.
The two leaders hold a noon Eastern Time press conference.
A lot to unpack since Flynn was pushed out of the Trump White House on Monday night after he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his December call with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S.
While Trump is lashing out at the leaks fueling the stories as heads into a scandal, Republicans on Capitol Hill having to decide if they pursue this with at least as much vigor as they did Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough asked Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker R-Tenn., “What are the questions Congress needs to get to the bottom of?”
Replied Corker, “Joe, it’s hard to know where to start.
“The base issue is getting to the bottom of what the Russian interference was and what the relationship was with the associates of the Trump effort. That is the big elephant in the room that has got to be dealt with in the most appropriate way.
“The American people need to understand, we need to understand. And it needs to be dealt with quickly and we need to get it behind us. So how we go about dealing with that is very important. Is the White House going to have the ability to stabilize itself?
The Wednesday Trump posts:
“The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by “intelligence” like candy. Very un-American!” 7:13 a.m. Eastern Time
Backstory: Trump is trying to change the conversation to the leakers, rather than the substance of the leaks. Remember during the campaign how Trump gleefully praised the Clinton/Podesta email dumps from Wikileaks?
“Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?” 6:42 a.m. Eastern Time
Backstory: Russia’s Crimea grab during the Obama presidency is a meaty topic. But today, Trump is trying to change the focus from his own Russian controversy.
“Thank you to Eli Lake of The Bloomberg View – “The NSA & FBI…should not interfere in our politics…and is” Very serious situation for USA” 6:28 a.m. Eastern Time
Backstory: I am not sure which Lake story Trump is referring to. Lake, a national security writer authored a column headlined, “The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn.” That Lake column was highlighted by Breitbart News, the former home of Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon.
Lake doesn’t brush aside the problem, though. In that article, Lake writes, “The background here is important. Three people once affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign — Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — are being investigated by the FBI and the intelligence community for their contacts with the Russian government. This is part of a wider inquiry into Russia’s role in hacking and distributing emails of leading Democrats before the election.”
Lake himself replied via Twitter to Trump, “Thanks @potus. Can you follow me at @elilake so we can DM?”
“Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia” 6:19 a.m Eastern Time
Backstory: Here’s a reply from @DavidGMcAfee that sort of sums it up:
“Wait @realDonaldTrump, you said @nytimes was FAKE NEWS! If they are being fed information, that means it’s a real leak. Right? I’m confused.”
“This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.” 6:08 a.m. Eastern Time
Backstory: The Russia controversy is well beyond that. See Corker’s comments above.
“The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!” 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time
Backstory: Trump is praising the friendly treatment he gets from the hosts at that morning show.