Trump resumes attacks on media on first day back in US

White House leaks about Jared Kushner’s Russian ties are fake news, tweets president

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump disembark from Air Force One at the end of Mr Trump’s first international trip as president. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Donald Trump used his first day back on US soil after an extended international trip to lash out at the domestic news media, suggesting that "many of the leaks coming out of the White House" are fabricated by reporters seeking to damage his presidency.

The criticisms, in a series of morning posts on Twitter, come as several US news organisations have reported that the FBI's investigation into ties between Mr Trump's presidential campaign and Russia is closely examining the role played by Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and close adviser.

"It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media," Mr Trump wrote. "Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media, and they don't mention names, it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers."

Mired in scandal

Mr Trump has frequently used attacks on news organisations to rally his supporters when his White House or presidential campaign has found itself mired in scandal, a tactic that has so far enabled him to hold on to his core supporters who are increasingly suspicious of political and media elites in Washington.


But the revelations about Mr Kushner threaten to dominate the political agenda following Mr Trump’s nine-day tour of the Middle East and Europe, where glittering Saudi welcomes and sharp-elbowed squabbles with European allies pushed the simmering Russia scandal into the background.

The probe into Mr Kushner, first reported by the Washington Post, is focusing on his efforts to set up a "back channel" to communicate with the Kremlin before Mr Trump assumed office. US officials said Mr Kushner held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, and the head of Vnesheconombank, a state-owned lender under US sanctions.

Communications contacts

Lieut Gen HR McMaster, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, has defended the practice of setting up communications contacts outside normal diplomatic channels, telling reporters on Saturday that they were a regular practice in international affairs.

“We have back-channel communications with a number of countries,” Gen McMaster said when asked about the case of Mr Kushner. “It allows you to communicate in a discreet manner.”

Mr Kushner's entanglement in the Russian scandal would take the investigation into the inner sanctum of the White House. Previously, the highest-ranking figure to be subject of FBI scrutiny was Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser whose ties to Mr Trump are far more recent and less personal than those of Mr Kushner. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017)