President Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning to castigate the FBI for leaking damaging information about his administration, the latest in public complaints about the nation’s intelligence agencies.
“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security 'leakers' that have permeated our government for a long time,” Trump said in tweets. “They can't even...... find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S.”
“FIND NOW,” he added in all capitals for emphasis.
Trump’s tweets followed a report Thursday by CNN that White House officials requested that the FBI publicly knock down media reports about communications between Trump's associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The White House disputed that characterization, with press secretary Sean Spicer telling CNN that the request was made only after FBI officials indicated to White House officials that they did not think the reporting was accurate.
“We didn't try to knock the story down,” Spicer said. “We asked them to tell the truth.”
On Friday morning, Spicer heatedly denounced the CNN story and others that have followed, saying "what you guys have done is indefensible and inaccurate."
Spicer characterized a conversation that took place between White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and an FBI official as innocuous. He said the issue came up as part of a conversation on another subject and that Priebus asked if there was anything the FBI could do after an FBI official volunteered that the story was inaccurate.
Priebus has publicly denounced reports about frequent communications between the Trump campaign and Russians and said that he was privately assured by intelligence officials that the reports are incorrect.
During an appearance last weekend on “Fox News Sunday,” Priebus called a New York Times story on the subject “complete garbage.”
“I can assure you, and I have been approved to say this, that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it's grossly overstated and it was wrong,” Priebus said.
Trump has lashed out before at the intelligence community, including an occasion last month after some unfavorable leaks, when he asked on Twitter: “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”