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Trump slams intel officials, media over Flynn and Russia

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington today.

WASHINGTON >> President Donald Trump slammed intelligence officials and the media today over what he called “very, very unfair” treatment of his ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and for “illegally leaked” information about reported contacts between his campaign advisers and Russian officials.

Trump’s comments come amid a new swirl of controversy over his ties to Russia. The White House said Flynn was forced to resign this week after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump aides about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before the inauguration.

In his first public comments on Flynn’s firing, Trump said it was “really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.” He spoke during a White House news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump is said to favor Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL, as his next national security adviser, according to a White House official. Harward met with top White House officials last week and has the backing of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Late Tuesday, The New York Times reported that U.S. agencies had intercepted phone calls last year between Russian intelligence officials and members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team. Current and former U.S. officials who spoke to the Times anonymously said they found no evidence that the Trump campaign was working with the Russians on hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

Trump didn’t directly address the veracity of the report, but lashed out at what he called the “criminal act” of leaking information. Earlier today, Trump tweeted that “classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!”

The White House has not commented on the report, though officials denied as recently as Tuesday afternoon that campaign advisers had communicated with Russia during the election.

The White House said Flynn was fired not because of his communications with the Russian ambassador, but because he had not been truthful with Pence about the content of those discussions. Flynn maintained for weeks that he had not discussed sanctions in the calls, but later conceded that the topic may have come up.

White House officials said they conducted a thorough review of Flynn’s interactions, including transcripts of calls secretly recorded by U.S. intelligence officials, but found nothing illegal.

Pence, who had vouched for Flynn in a televised interview, is said to have been angry and deeply frustrated.

At the White House Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters: “The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable incidents is what led the president to ask General Flynn for his resignation.”

Flynn, in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, said Monday “there were no lines crossed” in his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The explanation of the episode left many questions unanswered, including why Trump didn’t alert Pence to the matter and why Trump allowed Flynn to keep accessing classified information and taking part in the president’s discussions with world leaders up until the day he was fired.

White House officials also struggled to explain why Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway had declared the president retained “full confidence” in Flynn just hours before the adviser had to submit his letter of resignation.

Flynn’s firing heightened questions about the president’s friendly posture toward Russia. Democrats called for investigations into Flynn’s contacts, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Congress needed to know whether he had been acting with direction from the president or others.

Trump initially thought Flynn could survive the controversy, according to a person with direct knowledge of the president’s views, but a pair of explosive stories in The Washington Post in recent days made the situation untenable. As early as last week, he and aides began making contingency plans for Flynn’s dismissal, a senior administration official said. While the president was said to be upset with Flynn, he also expressed anger with other aides for “losing control” of the story and making his young administration look bad.

Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said Pence became aware that he had received “incomplete information” from Flynn only after the first Washington Post report Thursday night. Pence learned about the Justice Department warnings to the White House around the same time.

The officials and others with knowledge of the situation were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and requested anonymity.

Ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration, Pence and other officials insisted publicly that Flynn had not discussed sanctions in his talks with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On Jan. 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates contacted White House counsel Don McGahn to raise concerns about discrepancies between the public accounting and what intelligence officials knew to be true about the contacts based on routine recordings of communications with foreign officials who are in the U.S.

The Justice Department warned the White House that the inconsistencies would leave the president’s top national security aide vulnerable to blackmail from Russia, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion. The president was informed of the warnings the same day, Spicer said.

Flynn was interviewed by the FBI around the same time, according to a U.S. official who was briefed on the investigation.

McGahn, along with chief of staff Reince Priebus and strategist Steve Bannon, also questioned Flynn multiple times in the ensuing weeks, a White House official said. Top aides also reviewed transcripts of Flynn’s contacts with the ambassador, according to a person with knowledge of the review process.

At the same time, the official said Trump aides began taking steps to put some distance between the president and Flynn. CIA Director Mike Pompeo and retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, a top Flynn aide, started taking part in Trump’s daily security briefings.

Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Eric Tucker, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin, Erica Werner and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

Online: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3461508-Michael-Flynn-Resignation-Letter.html

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  • It’s hard to imagine a less competent administration. The past month has been one disaster after another, and it’s not likely to get any better.

    Trump is a psychotic.

    • klastri> Granted it has not been a totally smooth sailing for the new TRUMP Admin (TA), but “disaster one after another,” I must disagree. There have been good things being done for the greater good of America and the American people as a whole. What is it that you don’t like so much that your rhetoric is so negative about TA? Do you expect perfection from the TA? I don’t hope for perfection, but at least a “reasonable” amount that is being done for the overall good of the nation will be sufficient. In due time, this administration will more than likely undergo a level of overhaul and changes to the current WH staff lineup. Be calm and cool. Without all of the distractions, protests, attacks against the family, obstructions the TA should improve their performance. The hard issues are what to do about Russia, N. Korea and Iran. What Flynn did compared to what those three “evil” countries have done is miniscule. They are all doing the same “sword rattling” dance. Should we attack or lay low?

        • Good things like allowing Mar Lago customers to take photos at a meeting with Abe where sensitive materials were on display…Those memories will last forever…#MAGA

        • ad1> The good things are in the works, you have no patience whatsoever. Not even 1 month in office. You must be expecting him to perform miracles. He has moved to try to protect this nation from new Islamic radical terrorists from entering our country. He has taken action to fight the ISIS threat. Directed DOD to come up with a battle plan in 30 days to fight ISIS. Directed Congress to repeal and replace the failing ADA. These are some examples of what “GOOD” things that he has done.

          juris> No sensitive materials were released at Mar-a-Lago. Classified info was discussed in a secure room/area. Photos will be worth a few dollars on “PAWN STARS.”

          klastri> Since you almost always name call POTUS a psycho, maybe he’ll do you a favor and have one of our nuclear subs launch an ICBM at Russia, Iran or N Korea. You’ll be happy since this would prove your point, right! Maybe, after he is finished being POTUS, I don’t think he’ll worry much about money. He’ll be 78 by that time. He has more than enough, but whatever he gets after 8 years would be okay with me.

      • NP4591 – I’m still waiting for good things. He has assembled the least qualified cabinet in history – Rick Perry as Energy Secretary?? – and held a national security meeting in the dining room of a golf club with diners looking on with cell phones. He’s an international laughingstock now.

        Should we attack what? You mean go to war? War is absolutely the last step in a long process – at least for people who are not insane. That caveat is what is worrying world leaders. More and more people are questioning Trump’s mental state, and for good reason.

        Trump and his spokespeople lie constantly, and he is using the presidency as a tool to enrich himself and his children. He is a hot mess.

        • You people really make yourselves look like little babies, crying about everything after America rejected your party of malcontents!

        • Paulh808 – Not surprising that your facts are wrong – most of your comments appear to be made up out of thin air.

          America did not reject Mrs. Clinton. She received 3 million more votes than Mr. Trump did, so there’s that little detail for you to think about.

          We’re crying not because of the election, but because Mr. Trump is wildly out of control and he is in the process of driving the country into a series of ditches. He’s spectacularly unfit, and your comments are not going to change that.

        • Trump’s tantrum today about how wonderful Flynn is, then casting blame on the media and intelligence agencies for “Fake News”,”Leaking” information, is just another Trump way of evading the issue at hand, the collusion of his campaign advisers, managers and business partners with Putin, Russian Intelligence operatives and Russian nationalists months prior to the election, during the campaign, and during the transition after he was elected. Trump, Bannon, Pence, all were in cahoots with Flynn, telling him want to say about lifting the oil trade and economic sanctions against Russia. Now it’s coverup and deflect time, by Trump and his Administration. The US intelligence agencies uncovering of lies by Flynn, are getting too close to Pence and Trump, now Flynn had to take the fall on his own sword

      • My comment is awaiting moderation.
        @ NP5491
        Agree with your post.
        As to Gen. Flyn’s issue “leaking” of sensitive material to left wing MSM is a National Security breach & disgrace and also a crime to America.

    • agree. Trump is focusing on the leaks and not the real substance: Flynn’s lies, his felonious actions and the odd, still unknown ties between Trump and a foreign power.

        • Oh please, HI attorney general is a career politician, the put an executiver from Goldman Sachs in charge of reasury, he nominated the CEO of a fast food chain that racked up more employment discrimination complaints than any other major company to lead Labor, his Education Secretary’s main qualification is here campaign contribution. Chump draining the swamp? Hardly he’s just replacing the snakes.

        • Trump should get credit for draining the creatures he put in the swamp…He’s already got rid of Flynn and Pudzer, he also has his sites set on two more creatures, Conway and Spicer, see he’s making it a better America already…#MAGA

        • Trump has drained the swamp, and added the sharks of Wall Street Goldman Sachs billionaire executives to his cabinet and chief advisers. he is also filling the swamp with oil and gas special interests, like Rex Tillerson, our new Secretaty of State, who was an Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer for many years. So far, the only people getting GREAT and more powerful are the Wall Street people, who gave us the last Great Recession staring in 2007, and the fossil fuel industry here and in Russia

    • Ditto that. When Comey, the FBI director, put out news of an incomplete investigation on the e-mails, he basically changed the political landscape. Was this a “leak”? There wasn’t much complaining about leaks then. After much scrutiny, the FBI recommended against any further action. Calls to “Lock her up” has gone by the wayside. I imagine, with all the things Trump blames Clinton for and his promise to “Lock her up”, one would think this would be a priority for him.
      Trump shouldn’t be afraid of a commission doing an all out, transparent investigation. Should the commission find no wrong doing, as he claims, then he can twitter his thumbs off all he wants.

      • Great post…And this is the math that Trumpers are struggling with…How to make up an answer to your post that makes sense…The only answer they keep coming up with us, Quit crying Hillary lost, Get over it Snowflakes, What about Obama and other wrong answers…#MAGA

        • Dai and Juris> Trump’s priorities are not focused on HRC, but on the needs of this country. Her time of reckoning may come later if ever. A leak of classified information, ass in this case is a felony by law. Check out Title 18 USC Chap 37 SS 798. What is everybody jumping up and down for. Flynn was given the opportunity to resign and he took it. There will be investigations, hearings, etc. but in the end nobody will get burned but the person(s) that unlawfully released that information. I am quite sure that that person(s) are now scurrying for cover. They will be punished. In my time, handling of classified information was a very high visibility subject and it was always made a point of emphasis at all meetings, briefings and everyday work. HUMINT and SIGINT were always stressed.

          HRC did lose the election. The popular votes that she got came mostly from the east and west coast states. These states have a larger population base, therefore, the difference in the amount of popular votes. TRUMP won the majority of the states and accumulated a total of 306 ELECTORAL votes.

  • In clear violation of Federal record detention laws, Trump administration officials are reported to be using Confide, an encrypted email program that destroys messages after they are read.

    • And he’s using it on an old Android phone that a tenth grader could hack. Hard to believe how bad the past month has been for United States national security.

      This helps to explain why virtually every business he ever started (the real estate thing was left to him by his father) ended up crashing and burning.

  • Maybe Trump should have done something after learning about the problem two weeks ago. This President is operating as if “our” country is like his personal business. How long can he be given a chance as some people say? He will discredit anyone that questions his behavior. He is a mess.

      • Everytime Trump opens his mouth, or tweets, I am becoming more convinced he is insane. He has all the symptoms od Attention Deficiency Hyperactive Disorder ADHD. A madman leading our nation and the world. Putin must see him as a pushover.

    • Yes, unfortunately with our country you just can’t decide to file for bankruptcy when things go bad and just start over again. And Trump has found out you must get things right day one. Now he is left doing damage control. Blaming the media and others will not help, it will only make them even more relentless. I believe he severely underestimates what it takes to be the President.

      • So true. You’ve “hit the nail on the head”.
        If Flynn, didn’t do the deed, then there would have been no news to “leak”. If campaign staffers didn’t communicate with Russian intelligence officials then there would be no news to leak. Again, self-inflicted wounds.
        Watched a legislator on news this morning complain and accuse our intelligence community of violating the privacy of a US citizen. This from a person who not so long ago was defending the right of the US to listen in on private communications for National Security purpose. How many times did I hear the argument, “If you didn’t do anything wrong, what you got to hide” to defend ease dropping on private communications.
        If Flynn was a “private US citizen” then he might have been violating the Logan Act and cannot use the “government representative” shield as a defense.
        Trump is finding it very difficult to get things done because he is no longer running a private business. Democracy is not meant to be efficient. It is however, the best thing we have. The thing that has made our country great. Checks and balances is the cornerstone of democracy.

  • Trump’s cabinet is so disjointed and would be comical if it were a reality show. But this is the leader and the inner circle of the most powerful nation in the world. This is embarassing. This disfunctional cabinet better get it together quickly because there is a looming missle crisis in North Korea and I haven’t seen any response.

  • Trump never ever ate spam. Never every dine at McD. Never ever use a bus or subway. Never drives. Never wash dishes,take out the trash or wash clothes. He is not like 99% of Americans. All he cares about is power.

    • What is a “leak”? It’s a “lie” that got out. If it never got out of trumps circle, then it’s okay. Trump fights it by calling “fake” news.

    • Trump lives in an artificial world, insulated and cocooned in luxury and wealth, above it all in Trump Tower. He sees so much ugliness around him, he cannot see the beauty in all the different races and cultures, in the natural world and the environment. It is no wonder, he hardly ever smiles, and just scowls and is mean spirited

  • One month in and think of what has been all over the news. Fake news as some would rather call it but news nevertheless. Hardly anything positive, controversy after controversy. Sideshow after sideshow.
    I’ve been waking up wanting some positive news about this administration and so far nothing. Even from FOX…the only real news?
    So far all the “fake news” have been proven to be anything but “fake”…..but stuff coming from administration have proven to be “fake”.
    Where to go from here?

    • Listen to Trump talk is getting more difficult. He starting to contradict his own self. Talking about fake news about his staffs communications with Russian intelligence agents and criticizing intelligence leaks from the FBI and CIA. Well the information came from the FBI & CIA, what so fake about that?

  • Trump has never run a big business with thousands of shareholders and listed on the NY Stock Exchange while subject to a critical board of directors. He owns a company he owns and runs with his family and he does what he wants. If it goes bad he can always file for bankruptcy.

    Therefore, he needs to learn how to run something as complex as his own administration with its cabinet, infighting between his cabinet and wierdos like Bannon and Steven Miller who are trying to tell 4 star generals what to do or to just bypass them. Trump needs help and needs to get rid of creeps like Bannon and Miller who are terrible at running anything as we saw with the immigration order screw up where they did not get approval from generals Mattis and Kelly nor Tillerson. Once Trump learns how to manage this and gets some good support, he will be fine and we will see why people voted for him (they did not vote for what he has given us so far, but that is only a few days from his inauguration.

      • And Trump only fired Flynn after Pence found out that he had been lied to by reading about it in the Washington Post. If it hadn’t been reported in the Post, Trump would have kept Flynn and continued to hide the truth from his Vice-President.

  • Rump has a lot on his plate right now. Big time problems. He’s been in Florida for three weeks now. Not sure if it’s a vacation or what. He’s planning a Rally!?? For what? Don’t know. He really likes rallies where he can use the mic and be on stage.
    Someday, he’ll remember he has a country to run. Maybe his aides might want to remind him.

  • Russian spy ship just off of our coast, their jets buzzing our ships, and T is silent. But he rants on anyone or anything that makes him look bad or calls him out on his alternate facts. Are we great yet?

      • Come on TeamTrump, where are you guys now when our glorious leader needs us?

        The truth can’t be winning. It’s fake. It’s fake. It’s fake!

        Trump said so again today, and Bibi was there too.

        And so what if Trump goes to Florida and plays golf every weekend and holds national security briefings with members and employees of his Club?

        He won the election. He won. He won.

        Yippee?

        MAGA? (Make America Golf Again?)

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