Donald Trump appears to have confirmed the existence of a classified CIA programme - in a tweet.
In a series of posts last night the President took aim at a report on Syrian rebels in the Washington Post, owned by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.
The article detailed Trump’s apparent decision to “end the CIA’s covert programme to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia”.
US officials told the newspaper in the story published 19 July that ending the secret programme was related to Trump’s concerns about re-establishing a working relationship with Russia.
Trump, apparently just catching up on last week’s news, obviously took umbrage at the report and unleashed a volley of angry tweets including this one which appears to confirm the existence of the classified program.
Which did not go unnoticed.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders declined at the time to discuss cessation of the program, telling reporters she didn’t know if it had come up in discussions that Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
He added: “I can’t think of a comparable incident with another president.
“The issue, as it has been for example with his disclosure of counter-terrorism intelligence to the [Russian foreign minister and ambassador in May] is he seems not to understand the reason why classified information is usually declassified in a more considered fashion.
“The impression it gives is that the President is making decisions about intelligence on an arbitrary basis and whether or not that’s true, the impression that sends makes it more difficult for the people who engage with American classified programs to trust that they will be dealt with in a consistent fashion.”
Trump continued his tirade against The Washington Post and Bezos, accusing them of lobbying
The tweets appear to have been timed to distract from yesterday’s real story - his son-in-law.
Jared Kushner will return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a second day of private meetings with congressional investigators, this time for a closed-door conversation with lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee.
Kushner on Monday answered questions from staff on the Senate’s intelligence panel, acknowledging four meetings with Russians during and after Trump’s victorious White House bid and insisting he had “nothing to hide.” He emerged smiling to publicly declare, “All of my actions were proper.”
A quiet insider who generally avoids the spotlight, Kushner is the first top Trump lieutenant to be quizzed by the congressional investigators probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, reports the Associated Press.
Hours before the Senate meeting, Kushner released an 11-page statement that was billed as his remarks to both the Senate and House committees. In it, he acknowledged his Russian contacts during the campaign and then the following weeks, in which he served as a liaison between the transition and foreign governments. He described each contact as either insignificant or routine and he said the meetings, along with several others, were omitted from his security clearance form because of an aide’s error. Kushner cast himself as a political novice learning in real time to juggle “thousands of meetings and interactions” in a fast-paced campaign.
“Let me be very clear,” Kushner said afterward in a rare public statement at the White House. “I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so.”