President Trump kicked off his Saturday with another online assault on major media, this time the “failing” New York Times and “Amazon Washington Post.”
Citing no evidence, he alleged that the Times “foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi.” Trump added, “Their sick agenda over National Security.”
The president seems to have been referring to statements by U.S. Gen. Tony Thomas in a Friday interview with Fox News’ Catherine Herridge at the Aspen Security Forum. Thomas said his special-operations team was “particularly close” to ISIS caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi after a 2015 raid that killed ISIS oil minister Abu Sayyaf.
“Unfortunately, it was leaked in a prominent national newspaper about a week later and that lead went dead,” Thomas said, apparently referencing a June 2015 story in the New York Times.
A Times spokesperson offered a response on Saturday: “If the President is referring to this 2015 story, the Pentagon raised no objections with the Times before publishing the story in 2015 and no senior American official ever complained publicly about it until now, as noted in Peter Baker’s story this morning. We have asked the White House to clarify the tweet.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters on Friday that he doubted Russia military claims that they had killed Al-Baghdadi in an airstrike last month. “Until I see his body, I am going to assume he is alive,” he said.
Also on Saturday, Trump blasted the Washington Post — owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — for what the president called an “illegal” intelligence leak about Attorney General and former Trump campaign official Jeff Sessions.
On Friday night, the Post reported that Russia’s U.S. ambassador Sergey Kislyak told Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues related to U.S.-Russia relations, with Sessions during the 2016 presidential race.
The report, which contradicted previous public statements by Sessions, cited current and former U.S. officials who had heard two conversations intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which regularly monitor communications of top Russian officials.
“A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!”