Trump returns from foreign trip to familiar role: Tweeter in chief

Senior Editor
Yahoo News
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump return to the White House on Saturday night. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump return to the White House on Saturday night. (Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

President Trump returned from his foreign trip to a role he’s much more familiar with: Tweeter in chief.

“Just returned from Europe,” Trump wrote on Twitter early Sunday. “Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!”

The nine-day tour — which included stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Italy — was clouded by revelations about the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Trump did not hold a single press conference throughout the trip and was relatively restrained in his use of Twitter.

But just as Trump’s trip was wrapping up, the Washington Post reported on Friday that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser, had proposed a secret back channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team during a December meeting with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. The Associated Press reported the same Sunday.

“It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media,” Trump declared on Twitter, without naming the specific story or scandal with which he took issue.

“Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names,” Trump continued, “it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”

Yet Trump has repeatedly sparred with members of the press over their coverage of the Russia investigation, insisting they ought to be focused on the leaks.

“The leaks are absolutely real,” Trump said in February. “The news is fake.”

“Find the leakers,” Trump tweeted on May 16.

And it was Trump himself who for years routinely cited unnamed sources while questioning the validity of former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

The president even took the opportunity to chide the media for what he deemed was insufficient coverage of Republican Greg Gianforte’s narrow victory in Montana’s closely watched special election for the state’s at-large congressional seat.

But the election was, in fact, widely covered after Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly body slamming a reporter at a campaign event on Wednesday, just hours before voters headed to the polls.

Trump also made reference to the apparent leaks of the British police investigation into last week’s bomb attack that killed 22 people outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. British police briefly stopped sharing information with U.S. intelligence agencies on Thursday after details of their investigation spilled out in U.S. media outlets.

At a NATO summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Theresa May raised concerns about the leaks with Trump, who subsequently condemned them.

“British Prime Minister May was very angry that the info the U.K. gave to U.S. about Manchester was leaked,” Trump tweeted. “Gave me full details!”

Earlier this month, Trump came under fire for reportedly revealing top-secret information in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak.

Trump’s apparent decision to casually reveal information, reportedly gleaned from an Israeli source, was ripped by lawmakers who feared it would dissuade other U.S. intelligence partners from sharing information.

In response, Israel’s defense minister said it had changed its intelligence-sharing protocols with the United States after Trump’s meeting.

“We did a spot repair,” Avigdor Liberman said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, declining to discuss specifics. “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.”

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