Democracy Dies in Darkness

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Trump blasts 'fabricated' Syria story, appears to confirm covert CIA program

By Derek Hawkins

July 25, 2017 at 2:25 AM

President Trump lashed out at The Washington Post in a string of tweets Monday night, saying the newspaper had "fabricated the facts" about his decision to end a covert program aiding Syrian rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad," Trump wrote in one tweet.

Trump appeared to be referring to a Post story last week on the phasing out of a covert Obama administration program in which the CIA armed and trained moderate Syrian rebels battling forces loyal to Assad in the country's civil war. The Post reported that the Russian government had long opposed the program, seeing it as an assault on its interests. Trump decided to scrap the program nearly a month ago after meeting with his CIA director and national security adviser ahead of a July 7 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to The Post's story.

The White House did not dispute the story when it ran last week. In remarks at a national security forum in Colorado on Friday, Gen. Tony Thomas, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, appeared to confirm that the program had been shut down, then attempted to walk back his comments, as Politico reported.

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In a move that reflects his interest in working with Russia, President Trump has decided to end a covert CIA program supporting Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. (The Washington Post)

In tweeting about the secret program, Trump, too, seemed to confirm its ending.

A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment on Trump's tweets Monday night.

It is not clear what caused Trump to take issue with the story, but Politico media reporter Hadas Gold noted that Fox News host Tucker Carlson discussed it in a segment Monday night that was critical of the Syrian initiative.

Trump went on to accuse The Post of reporting "fake news" and suggested that the newspaper was being used as a "lobbyist weapon" to help Amazon avoid taxes. He has made similar accusations in the past, both as a candidate and as president.

Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos purchased The Post personally in 2013. It is not owned by Amazon.

Trump's remarks came at the end of a day filled with Twitter attacks. Those on the receiving end of the president's outrage included Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y); Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House panel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election; senators voting against debate on Obamacare repeal legislation; and the "fake news" media generally.

In perhaps his most noticed tweet of the day, Trump took a swipe at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling him "our beleaguered A.G." and questioning why Sessions was not investigating "Crooked Hillary's crimes & Russia relations."


Derek Hawkins is a reporter with The Washington Post's Morning Mix.

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