President Donald Trump posted a series of angry Twitter missives Wednesday morning in which he accused his own intelligence services of “un-American” activity, and singled out the National Security Agency and the FBI as being “just like Russia.”
The six-tweet outburst was in response to a bombshell article in The New York Times on Tuesday, which described how Trump’s campaign officials and close business associates were in frequent contact with high-level Russian intelligence officials throughout his presidential campaign.
Below are Trump’s tweets, which he shared with more than 20 million followers of his personal Twitter account.
Trump watches cable news most mornings, and frequently tweets insults or compliments at the networks, based on how positive or negative the coverage of him is. Wednesday was no exception.
But the rest of the tweets reveal how frustrated and angry the president is over his inability to stop damaging information from being handed out by his own administration “like candy.”
They also reveal Trump’s conflicted attitude toward Russia, a U.S. adversary whose president, Vladimir Putin, Trump has frequently applauded.
The leaks themselves reveal how close the contacts were between Russian officials and many of the people closest to Trump. This, along with Trump’s friendly overtures to Putin, paint a picture of an administration ready to pivot toward Moscow.
Yet Trump also seems to be obsessed with being “tough” with other countries, whether in trade agreements or national security issues. In one of the tweets he accused former President Barack Obama of being “too soft” on Russia, a startling claim coming from a man who regularly praises Putin and promises to improve U.S.-Russian relations.
It was similarly odd to hear Trump say the leaks coming out of his government intelligence services, and being given to major newspapers, are “just like Russia.”
But exactly what “just like Russia” means to the president is unclear. During his campaign, Trump himself benefited from precisely this type of leak from Russia ― in that case, the release of internal Democratic Party emails. Trump even encouraged the Russian government to continue hacking the private communications of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
All of which made Trump’s final tweet of the morning even more interesting: “The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!” he wrote.
In light of what these leaks have shown the public about the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, and his national security adviser’s conversations with Russia’s emissary, the question of what is “Very un-American!” may not be one that Trump is well-suited to answer.