After the messy and high-profile resignation of Michael Flynn, the president and at least one key congressional Republican have directed their ire at the leaks that exposed the now-former National Security Advisor’s clandestine conversations with Russian officials.
“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) echoed the president’s concerns.
“I am going to be asking the FBI to do an assessment of this to tell us what’s going on here because we cannot continue to have these leaks as a government,” he told Fox News.
Trump had been uncharacteristically quiet about Flynn during weeks of disclosures and drama surrounding Flynn’s contact with Russia and the misinformation he gave Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of those conversations.
But in turning his anger to the leaks, Trump is directing focus to an issue he’s always been sensitive about since the early days of his Administration. During his presidential campaign, Trump required almost everyone in his inner circle to sign legally binding nondisclosure agreements to prevent confidential or disparaging information about him to reach the public. (He’s seeking $10 million from fired former campaign aide Sam Nunberg for allegedly breaching one such confidentiality agreement.)
But since he was inaugurated less than a month ago, Trump has been repeatedly hammered by information seeping out of the West Wing. The leaks that took down Flynn are more evidence of the president’s already strained relationship with the intelligence community.
And leaks coming from within the White House, even about details as inconsequential as Trump watching television in a bathrobe, demonstrate the tension and in-fighting among Trump’s closest advisers.
But Trump isn’t always troubled by leaks. During his presidential campaign, he praised Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for releasing documents from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, praising Wikileaks for providing a “window” into “the secret corridors of government power.”
He is also reportedly considering former CIA director David Petraeus to replace Flynn. Petraeus had to step down from his position in 2012 after it was revealed that he supplied classified intel to his biographer turned mistress.