President Trump on Monday attacked news coverage based on leaks coming from the White House as “a massive over exaggeration” — but also slammed his own staffers as “traitors and cowards” for spilling the beans.
“The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!” the commander in chief tweeted just hours after the White House had announced that first lady Melania Trump had been hospitalized after kidney surgery.
It wasn’t clear what sparked Trump’s wrath — but it came shortly after reporters badgered administration spokesman Raj Shah about why White House staffer Kelly Sadler had not publicly apologized for saying that Sen. John McCain’s support for Trump’s policies wasn’t important “because he’s dying anyway” of terminal brain cancer — a comment that was leaked to the press and outraged lawmakers from both parties.
Shah claimed that Sadler had apologized to Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, in private.
“I was told Kelly Sadler called the McCain family late last week and did apologize,” Shah said at Monday’s press briefing.
“I wasn’t on the call. I was told she made it prior to the story being published. She apologized for the comment.”
Shah and spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders both treated the leak as worse than Sadler’s classless comment.
“When you work in any work environment…if you aren’t able in internal meetings to speak your mind or convey thoughts or say anything that you feel without feeling like your colleagues will betray you, that creates a difficult work environment,” Shah said Monday. “I think anybody who works anywhere can recognize that.“
Last week, Sanders said: “I’m not going to get into a back and forth because people want to create issues of leaked staff meetings,” declining to address the issue beyond that.
The president rails about “Fake News” on a regular basis, and last week seemed to define the term as any news about him that wasn’t positive — and threatened to take reporters’ credentials away from them as punishment.
“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?” he raged on Twitter.
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