The ongoing battle between the Trump administration and the U.S. intelligence community escalated on Wednesday after President Trump accused some officials within the FBI and National Security Agency of behaving “just like Russia” by leaking classified information he says is meant to undermine his presidency.
Trump appears to be responding to recent reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post based on information from anonymous current and former U.S. intelligence officials who have leaked information about former national security advisor Michael Flynn and about former Trump campaign associates’ connections to the Russian government.
Flynn was forced to resign his position on Monday following a series of leak-based reports showing that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about phone calls he had with Russia’s ambassador in December. Flynn’s phone calls were intercepted by the National Security Agency as part of routine surveillance operations against foreign diplomats.
The final nail in the coffin came Monday in a Post report that the Department of Justice’s then-deputy attorney general, Sally Yates, warned the White House that Russia may have blackmail material against Flynn because of his false claims about the phone calls.
Leaks continued to flow like Niagara Falls on Tuesday with the publication of a Times report that some Trump campaign associates and advisers were in contact with Russian government agents during the presidential campaign.
CNN reported later in the evening that then-President-Elect Trump and then-President Obama were briefed on that intelligence.
The Times report, which was based on leaks from U.S. government officials, was light on specifics. It also acknowledged that investigators have yet to uncover evidence showing that the Trump advisers’ cooperated with Russian agents to influence the election.
In another tweet sent on Wednesday, Trump reiterated his claim from earlier this week that the leaks of classified information from the intelligence community are “the real scandal.”
Trump also praised Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake, the author of a recent article entitled “The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn.”
In the piece, Lake argued that the recent leaks from the intelligence community are similar to “what police states do.”
“Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity,” he wrote.