President Donald Trump on Friday launched an unprecedented attack on the Federal Bureau of Investigation for not being able to stop the leak of classified information and said it could have a ‘devastating effect’ on the United States.
'The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,’ Trump tweeted.
‘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 US. FIND NOW,’ Trump said, urging the FBI to act.
Trump’s public criticism of the FBI, the country’s top intelligence and investigating agency, was a rare one that has not been seen in the past.
It came after CNN reported that the FBI rejected a recent request by the White House to dispute media reports that Trump campaign officials had regular contacts with Russian intelligence officials before the election.
A furious White House has described the report as inaccurate and false.
"What you guys have done is indefensible and inaccurate,” a senior administration official told reporters.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official gave a time line of the White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, meeting with the FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe on February 15.
During a one-on-one meeting between the two, after the conclusion of their official discussions, McCabe reportedly said, ‘I want you to know (the) story’ in The New York Times report about the FBI investigating contacts between Trump campaign people and Russian intelligence ‘is BS’.
According to the account of the senior administration official, Priebus asked ‘what can we do about this?’
McCabe demurred and said he will get back to Priebus.
Later on, McCabe called back and told Preibus that the FBI cannot say anything.
"We'd love to help but we can’t get into the position of making statements on every story,” he was quoted as saying.
Preibus asked if he could cite ‘senior intelligence officials’ as saying there’s nothing to the New York Times story. McCabe said yes.
Later on, FBI Director James Comey himself called Preibus and reiterated much the same thing that the 'story is BS but can't put out statement'.
IMAGE: US President Donald Trump points to the media up as he walks on the South Lawn upon his return to the White House in Washington on Friday. Yuri Gripas/Reuters