Donald Trump has unleashed an extraordinary attack on the news media as he claimed leaks about his sacked national security adviser Michael Flynn were “absolutely real” - but the news was “fake”.
The US President blasted broadcasters and newspapers as he was quizzed about Flynn’s phone call to a Russian diplomat that was not relayed to Vice President Mike Pence, saying he was “not happy” with how the information got out.
Trump appeared annoyed with journalists doing their job in a series of attacks on the media. Before facing questions he said: “The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
Trump was less angered by his ex-adviser - he says what Flynn did “wasn’t wrong” - than classified information that “was given illegally”.
He became more agitated and lambasted the media’s “tone” of “hatred”, adding: “I’m really not a bad person by the way.”
After repeated dismissals of the original Washington Post story as “fake news” - and even suggesting “Russia is fake” - he was asked whether he was saying the details leaked were also fake.
“The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake, because so much of the news is fake.”
He went on to rail at the US broadcaster CNN in particular, hitting out at the “exclusive anti-Trump” panels and that “when I go to rallies they want to throw placards at CNN”. “I watch it, I see it, I’m amazed by it,” he said of one of its evening shows.
But he insisted he was not “ranting and raving”: “I’m not, you’re just dishonest people. I’m having fun.”
But he then went on to argue: “I won, I won ... there’s zero chaos, this is a fine-tuned machine.”
Over more than an hour, Trump argued how he “inherited a mess. A mess, at home and abroad” and claimed how he had the “biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan” - when his victory was smaller than Barack Obama’s.