President Trump says he doesn’t like stories with anonymous sources … except when he does.
On Tuesday morning, Trump retweeted a Fox News report that cites a single, unnamed source that contradicts a Washington Post story about White House aide Jared Kushner attempting to set up back-channel communications with the Russians.
Jared Kushner didn't suggest Russian communications channel in meeting, source says https://t.co/nF6bM1FEt1
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) May 30, 2017
Trump tweeted out the link shortly after Fox & Friends promoted the story, which quotes a single source “familiar with the matter” as saying it was the Russians who broached the idea of using a secure, private line to communicate.
The story, which was published on Monday, is not currently visible on the FoxNews.com homepage or on its internal politics page. As many media observers pointed out, the story also does not carry a byline, which a spokeswoman at Fox News says is due to the fact that multiple reporters worked on the piece. Only chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge is credited on the report.
The Fox News report directly contradicts Friday’s Post story, which reported that Kushner proposed setting up a secret channel to shield communications between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin from U.S. monitoring. The New York Times and the Associated Press both separately confirmed the Post’s story.
Post National Editor Scott Wilson said on Twitter that allies of Kushner offered his reporters the same claims about the December meeting that appeared in the Fox News report, but he declined to include them because the sources refused to be identified as aligned with Trump’s son-in-law.
We talked to these "people" too. We would not publish their account unless we could signal they were speaking for Kushner. They refused. https://t.co/UpNrh7UHDV
— Scott Wilson (@PostScottWilson) May 27, 2017
The retweet was also an odd move for Trump because for several days, members of his administration have been attempting to make the case that it was appropriate for Kushner to set up a secret line of communication with Moscow, even if it would have involved using Russian equipment to bypass monitoring by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly didn’t confirm the Post’s report, but did tell Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that the principle of establishing secret lines of communications “doesn’t bother him.”
“I think that any channel of communication, back or otherwise, with a country like Russia is a good thing,” Kelly said.
In an appearance on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway declined to confirm the Fox News report, but added that “back channels like this are the regular course of business.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The re-tweet also comes on the heels of a Twitter rant where the president fired off several messages about recent leaks coming out of his White House, claiming stories with unnamed sources are made up by the “fake news” media.
The Trump administration itself has been accused of providing news outlets with knowingly false information. New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman suggested last week that the administration’s efforts haven’t worked because journalists “actually vet” the information.
The Trump administration has tried this a few times, sir. We actually vet these things. https://t.co/CNdET1sRbY
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) May 21, 2017