While taking questions from reporters following a press conference Thursday, President Donald Trump offered contradictory statements about leaks within his administration.After criticizing the press at length for articles regarding his administration's supposed ties to Russia, Trump said, "The leaks are real... the news is fake" in a statement that appeared to directly contradict itself.
"Well, the leaks are real," Trump said when asked about the information from anonymous officials that has led to disconcerting and embarrassing stories about his administration, including the Washington Post report that Michael Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador about Obama's sanctions in December and ultimately triggered his resignation. There was also the report in the New York Times that Trump's campaign aides were in contact with Russian officials during the election. "I mean, the leaks are real," Trump continued. "The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake."
If you're confused by the president's logic, you're not alone. From his statement, Trump appeared to be arguing the leaks fueling media reports regarding alleged communications between Trump campaign staffers and senior Russian officials were "real," while also arguing the media reports which resulted from the leaks were "fake."
"I don't mind bad stories," the president went on to say. "I can handle a bad story better than anybody, as long as it's true."
Throughout his press conference Trump described the leaks as "criminal" and said his administration was looking into them. "It's a criminal act," he said. "I don't want classified information getting out to the public... We got to stop it. That's why it's a criminal penalty."
When asked to clarify his statement by CNN's Jim Acosta, a reporter the president has argued with before, Trump repeated his allegation that "the reporting is fake."
"Here's the thing, the public - they read newspapers, they see television, they watch," the president said. "They don't know if it's true or false because they are not involved. I'm involved. I've been involved with this stuff all my life. But I'm involved so I know when you're telling the truth and when you're not. I just see many, many untruthful things."
"The leaks are real. The news is fake." Again, both of these statements cannot be true.— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) February 16, 2017
Trump went on to criticize what he called the hateful tone some media outlets were employing in their reporting on him and his administration. He also accused the press of "building... this whole Russia scam" in an effort to skirt reporting on "the real subject, which is illegal leaks." Trump did not elaborate on how the leaks could be "real" while news of the leaks could be "fake."
"Tomorrow, they will say, 'Donald Trump rants and raves at the press,'" Trump said. "I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you. You know, you're dishonest people. But I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it."