Trump Returns to U.S., and to Berating News Media on Twitter
President Trump, back from a nine-day overseas trip, wasted little time on Sunday morning turning his Twitter account back into a political weapon as he assailed what he called the “fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media.”
While Mr. Trump largely avoided provocative Twitter posts during his journey through the Middle East and Europe, he returned to social media soon after arriving at the White House on Saturday night, pushing back against a flurry of news reports stemming from investigations into contacts between Russia and his associates, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
“Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names,” he wrote on Twitter, “it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”
Mr. Trump woke up to find headlines and television talk shows focused on the latest turns in inquiries that he had been able to put to the side for much of his trip. The freshest developments brought the story into his own family, as news media reported that Mr. Kushner had discussed setting up a secret communications channel with the Russians between Mr. Trump’s election and inauguration.
News articles also focused on efforts by administration aides to develop a damage control plan to handle the controversies. The plan would seek to wall off questions involving the investigations from day-to-day governing by creating a separate war room in the White House, assembling a high-powered legal team outside the White House and shaking up the president’s communications team.
Aides expected Mr. Trump to begin meeting with lawyers as early as Sunday to talk about a way forward, but one consensus among White House lawyers and private lawyers consulted by the White House in recent days was that Mr. Trump needed to restrain himself on Twitter, rather than create new problems with impulsive or unfiltered messages.
Mr. Trump demonstrated during his travels to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank, the Vatican, Belgium and Italy that he could be disciplined about his use of social media. Over those nine days, he or his aides used his Twitter account to promote his foreign and domestic policies, thank his hosts and otherwise stay on message.
But he seems to be as aggrieved as ever by what he considers unfair news coverage. “It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media,” he wrote on Sunday morning.
He singled out last week’s special election in Montana for an open House seat that was won by the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, the day after being charged with assault for attacking a reporter. Mr. Trump made no comment about the candidate’s actions, but instead complained that Republicans did not get more credit for winning a district that the party has held for 20 years.
“Does anyone notice how the Montana Congressional race was such a big deal to Dems & Fake News until the Republican won?” he wrote.