Trump Denounces 'Illegal Leaks' In New Accounts Of His Campaign's Contact With Russia

Trump has denounced what he has called illegal leaks in the ongoing FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian officials.

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Trump Denounces 'Illegal Leaks' In New Accounts Of His Campaign's Contact With Russia

In series of tweets, Donald Trump rejected reports that campaign-related matters were discussed

President Donald Trump lashed out Saturday morning at a new Washington Post report of previously undisclosed alleged contacts between allies of his campaign and Russian government officials, calling the disclosures "illegal leaks" as he continues to try to shift the public focus to what he has said is a partisan attempt to undermine his presidency.The Washington Post reported late Friday that U.S. intelligence officials had collected information that Russia's ambassador to the United States had told superiors that he had discussed campaign-related matters and policies important to Moscow last year with Jeff Sessions, then a senator who had endorsed Trump.

Sessions, who is now attorney general, had initially failed to disclose his meetings with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his confirmation process; when they were made public in news reports, he insisted he had met with Kislyak only in his capacity as a senator and had not discussed campaign issues. But U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted communications that showed Kislyak indicated he had "substantive" discussions on matters including Trump's positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Trump has denounced what he has called illegal leaks in the ongoing FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian officials. U.S. intelligence agencies have said Moscow meddled in the campaign, stealing thousands of emails and other documents from Democratic Party officials and releasing them publicly to embarrass Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and to assist Trump. Trump has said repeatedly that he did not collude with Russian officials and called accounts of the meetings between his campaign and Russian operatives a partisan attack by Democrats to avenge their loss in the election. But he and some of his top aides have hired private criminal defense lawyers to deal with the probe.

In his tweet, Trump was referring to former FBI director James Comey, whom the president fired over his handling of the Russia probe. Comey later testified to Congress that he had felt pressure from Trump over the investigation and, after he was dismissed, released memos of his encounters with Trump to the media. The public disclosures helped lead to a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, taking over the investigation. (Trump's tweet also refers to Amazon, the online retailer led by Jeffrey P. Bezos, who also owns The Post.)

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on what she called a "wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept" and reiterated that Sessions had not discuss interference in the election. Trump has been angered by Sessions' role in the Russia probe after the attorney general recused himself. The president told The New York Times this week that he would not have named Sessions to the post if he had known he would do so.

Trump also alluded to another Post report this week that he has inquired of his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself. Trump aides said the president is merely curious about his powers and the limits of Mueller's investigation.As he has before, Trump also reiterated on Twitter his view that Clinton's campaign should be under greater scrutiny and he contended that his son, Donald Trump Jr., "openly" disclosed emails concerning a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign -- even though Trump Jr. did so after The New York Times obtained the emails and was preparing to publish a story on them.

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And in another tweet, Trump attacked the Times for reports that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose death in a Russian airstrike had been speculated last month, is still alive, according to Pentagon officials. It is not clear why the president holds the Times responsible.Trump is scheduled to participate Saturday in a commissioning ceremony for the USS Gerald Ford in Norfolk. His tweets came a day after Sean Spicer resigned as press secretary in the wake of Trump's hiring of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was promoted to the press secretary role.


(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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