Trump Denounced “Leakers” After Sharing Classified Information With Russians

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The White House had a busy week. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump claimed during a speech at the Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony that no politician has ever been “treated worse or more unfairly” than himself. Critics pushed back online: some Facebook pages juxtaposed the words against pictures of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, who was once imprisoned for his political activism, or assassinated presidents like John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

The following day, Trump tweeted that the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia is the “single greatest witch hunt in American history.” CNN reported on Thursday that during a schedule lunch with television news anchors, the president also claimed that the special counsel investigation, now led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, “hurts our country.” This stands in stark contrast with how past presidents like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan reacted to special investigations.

According to the archives of the New York Times, Reagan welcomed Lawrence Walsh in 1986 when he was named as a special prosecutor looking over the Iran arms fair by calling Walsh a “distinguished jurist” and promising him complete cooperation. “I have instructed all members of my administration to cooperate fully with the investigation in order to insure full and prompt disclosure,” Reagan said in a statement at the time.

Trump’s situation is also unique in another way: He continues to hold campaign-style rallies and fundraising drives even after taking office. The Chicago Tribune reported Trump’s team sent out a GOP fundraising pitch to his supporters this week. It claimed that they already knew “the media was out to get us,” but now there were unelected officials seeking to “sabotage President Trump and our entire America First movement.” Supporters were urged to donate money to help the president.

The fundraising letter didn’t name Trump’s supposed enemies. But it came after a memo written by former FBI director James Comey surfaced indicating that Trump reportedly asked him to stop the investigation into Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who the New York Times reported has financial ties to both Russian and Turkish officials. One of Comey’s former FBI associates corroborated the content of the memo, telling the Washington Post: “Comey felt as if Trump did not understand or did not like the FBI director’s independence and was trying to get Comey to bend the rules for him.”

Press secretary Sean Spicer denied allegations that Trump impeded the FBI investigation. Trump also denied that he asked Comey to drop the probe. However, some White House officials told Politico that they feel “helpless” and don’t know the truth about Trump’s actions behind closed doors with Comey.

Mixed messages continue to pour out of the White House. On May 12, Trump was threatening on Twitter to cancel traditional press briefings altogether “for the sake of accuracy” because he claimed his spokespeople can’t be expected to speak with “perfect accuracy” about the president’s views and actions.

It’s hard to find the truth behind what Trump says. So we’ve teamed up with PolitiFact to help you separate fact from fiction. Here are the biggest lies the Trump administration told this week:

1. Trump lied about leaking sensitive information to the Russian ambassador.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that his real qualm with Comey and other likeminded officials is the imperative to root out “leakers” in the intelligence community.

This tweet about “leakers” came after an international scandal on Monday, where numerous publications including the Washington Post reported Trump himself disclosed classified intelligence about ISIS to Russian officials during a meeting at the White House. The intel reportedly came to the U.S. from allies in the Israeli intelligence, according to unnamed current and former officials who spoke to The New York Times.

The Trump administration’s pre-emptive strategy was to deny that sources, methods or military operations had been disclosed to the Russian delegation. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster both denied Trump shared any military intel that was not “already known publicly.” Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell also claimed in a statement that the reports were false.

Then on Tuesday, the White House tweaked their story and admitted the president discussed “facts” related to ISIS and military tactics. However, they still claimed the choice was “wholly appropriate.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported: “Israeli officers now know that the commander-in-chief of their American counterparts is clearly compromised.”

We rate this claim: mostly false.

2. Ivanka Trump claimed the Trump administration is working to combat human trafficking.

While Trump was giving the graduation speech at the Coast Guard Academy, Ivanka Trump was leading a bipartisan meeting on human trafficking. USA Today reported she spoke about the Trump administration’s strategy to combat trafficking both domestically and around the world. The Trump administration has indeed proposed stricter policies.

Back in February, the Associated Press reported that President Trump promised to have the departments of Justice and Homeland Security evaluate the resources devoted to combatting human trafficking. He also signed an executive order to create stricter laws against international trafficking of both drugs and people. Ivanka followed up this week and announced the White House has been gathering recommendations from the “academic, public and private sector.”

But warnings from experts and sex workers, compounded by the criminal legacy of Trump’s supporters, all stand in stark contrast to her pragmatic words. The executive director of the National Guestworkers Alliance, Saket Sori, told The Guardian that “Trump’s policies are a gift to human traffickers” because “criminalizing immigrants makes them more vulnerable.”

Despite Ivanka’s publicized devotion to human rights, many sex workers fear the Trump administration. The Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project in San Francisco warned that the Republican-sponsored No Immunity for Sex Traffickers Online Act could have dire consequences for trafficking victims. “It will not stop sex work,” Maxine Doogan, president of the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project, said in a statement. “All it will do is make sex workers less safe and vulnerable to violence and extortion.”

These concerns are exacerbated by the Trump campaign’s history with both labor and sex trafficking. Mother Jones reported last summer that models who worked for Donald Trump’s Trump Model Management in New York described working for his company as “modern-day slavery.”

We rate this claim: half false.

3. Sean Spicer falsely claimed there is “no investigation” of Trump’s personal ties to Russia and even Democrats have already resolved there was “no collusion there.”

According to Spicer, even Trump’s most outspoken critics from the Democratic party now believe Trump is innocent of collaborating with the Russians during the 2016 elections. Spicer told reporters on Monday: “With respect to the president himself, both Senator Schumer, Senator Feinstein, Senator Manchin, everyone else who have been briefed on this have been very clear that there was no collusion with respect to the president himself and no investigation there.”

On Thursday, at a White House news conference, Trump himself said an investigation will show that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and any foreign entity.

Spicer’s claim was clearly premature. The investigation is still underway. According to the Associated Press: “An absence of document requests can’t be read as an indication that he isn’t under investigation, as Trump suggests. …Direct contact with the subject wouldn’t become known to that person until late in the process.” According to The New York Times, Trump’s personal advisers are urging him to seek outside counsel in the investigation regarding whether the his campaign had ties to Russia.

By all accounts, the Trump’s administration has not been absolved of guilt. Current and former U.S. officials familiar with the Trump administration told Reuters there were at least 18 undisclosed contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, including emails and phone calls. And on Friday, sources told ABC News that the probe into Russia’s involvement has now reached a “senior advisor” at the White House.

We rate this claim: false.

Related: Justice Department Appoints Robert Mueller as Special Counsel for Russia Investigation

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