President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his recently resigned National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was torpedoed by Democratic partisans who 'illegally leaked' intelligence material in order to harm him.
Appearing in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said 'the fake media' had fomented a scandal that wouldn't exist but for angry Democrats who were acting out in the wake of an embarrassing loss in November's presidential election.
'General Flynn is a wonderful man,' Trump said. 'I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media – as I call it, the fake media, in many cases.'
'From intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked,' Trump complained. 'It's a criminal action – a criminal act. And it's been going on for a long time, before me, but now it's really going on.'
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President Donald Trump said Wednesday during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Gen. Mike Flynn was treated unfairly through illegally leaked intelligence materials
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, shown last week in the same room where Trump spoke Wednesday, resigned Monday night following a steady media drumbeat that Trump says was fueled by selective leaks from inside the U.S. Intelligence Community
'The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!' Trump tweeted
The president's comments came after a morning tweet-storm attacking his own intelligence agencies by saying malicious leakers had touched off a tempest by suggesting he and his aides had improper contact with the Russian government during his presidential campaign.
'The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!' he tweeted.
The president faces accusations that he was needlessly sympathetic to Moscow, along with renewed suspicions that his foreign policy was informed by threats of blackmail from Vladimir Putin's government.
Trump and Netanyahu extended their bromance on Wednesday, pledging mutual support and publicly exploring the outlines of a potential peace deal with the Palestinian Authority
On Wednesday he piled on, laying the blame at the feet of Democratic partisans – while not specifying precisely who had been leaking classified material like a sieve.
'People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton,' Trump said.
'I think it's very, very unfair what happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that were illegally – I stress that – illegally leaked. Very, very unfair.'
He claimed on Twitter that the firestorm surrounding Flynn's ouster is a media conspiracy fueled by vengeful partisans inside U.S. intelligence agencies, and that the Obama administration – not his own – was 'soft on Russia.'
'Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?),' Trump tweeted. 'Just like Russia.'
The president hat-tipped reporter Eli Lake, who told a Fox News Channel audience about banana republic'-type leaks from inside the Intelligence Community
Trump claimed media 'conspiracies' and 'blind hatred' from reporters, saying MSNBC and CNN are treating him un
Trump also declared that '[t]his Russian connection non-sense [sic] is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign.'
And in a jab at his predecessor, Trump wrote: 'Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?'
Trump began his early morning tweet-storm with a swipe at cable TV hosts from the two networks he loves to hate.
'The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred,' he wrote.
'@MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!'
Trump singled out one Fox News Channel guest for praise – national security journalist Eli Lake.
'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,' he tweeted.
Lake appeared Tuesday night on the Fox News 'Hannity' show. 'Fox & Friends' replayed a clip on Wednesday morning that included the quotes in Trump's tweet.
He argued that Trump is the victim of malicious leaks from inside the U.S. Intelligence Community, and suggested that partisan Obama administration holdovers are to blame.
The president praised one Bloomberg reporter and suggested that the Obama administration, not his own, was 'too soft on Russia'
'This is the kind of thing that happens in banana republics, when the national police will go after a political leader that they don't like, and using these extraordinary powers,' Lake said.
'We trust the NSA and the FBI to use these powers to catch criminals and terrorists, but that should not interfere in our politics. And that stuff is interfering right now in our politics.'
Trump may not have read Lake's column that led Fox News to book him on the 'Hannity' program.
Lake wrote that he was skeptical of the White House's official explanation for Flynn's resignation – that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had in December with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.
'[F]or a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it's strange that Flynn's "lie" to Pence would get him fired. It doesn't add up,' he wrote.