President Donald Trump took the unusual step Friday of publicly criticising the FBI, saying it was failing to stop national security leaks to the media, even from within the agency.
The Republican’s rebuke, posted on Twitter and Facebook, comes with his administration on the defensive against allegations of improper links to Russia, with several investigations into the matter underway on Capitol Hill and at the FBI.
Accusations against Trump and his cohorts have come from news reports based on unnamed government sources.
“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,” Trump said.
“They can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S..”
The social media posts from Trump, a voracious consumer of cable news, came as CNN was airing a story on how the FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly deny news reports about alleged communications between Trump associates and potential Russian spies during the 2016 presidential campaign.
CNN’s report was based on “multiple unnamed US officials briefed on the matter.”
A White House official told CNN the request to the FBI came only after the agency indicated the news reports were not accurate.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign to tip the result in Trump’s favour.