President Donald Trump, returning home from his first visit overseas, took aim at brewing domestic political pressures by denouncing leaks of sensitive information—and rumors of an administration shake-up as "fake news."
Trump's visits to the Middle East and Europe were perceived in some quarters as diplomatic successes, but as he returns to the White House, his problems are mounting. Late last week, reports surfaced that Trump's top advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner was a target of investigators probing Russia's influence in the 2016 election.
Yet in a blizzard of tweets on Sunday, the president denounced the media's use of unnamed sources as "fake news," and again took aim at reporters as "the enemy."
"Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media, and they don't mention names... it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers," the president tweeted. "Fake news is the enemy!"
As a result of the sense of crisis enveloping the Oval Office, Trump is said to be weighing changes at the uppermost ranks of the White House.
Meanwhile, Trump also addressed a controversy that arose last week, when British authorities publicly complained that U.S. officials had leaked sensitive information about the bomber who killed more than 20 people at a Manchester concert.
In recent days, Trump and administration officials have condemned the disclosure of sensitive information, with Homeland Security chief John Kelly telling NBC's "Meet the Press" the leaks were "damn close to treason."
Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia began with a flurry of new agreements with the government of Saudi Arabia worth billions of dollars, which had the effect of calming a nervous market. His subsequent sojourn to Europe was punctuated by a few controversies, including a pointed demand to NATO members that they pay their fair share of defense costs that left some allies visibly uncomfortable.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised eyebrows when she was quoted as saying Europe would have to rely on itself in the future — interpreted by some observers as a thinly veiled swipe at Trump's broadside at NATO. In the past, the president has referred to the security arrangement as obsolete.
Now, a storm brewing at home threatens to dampen the afterglow of Trump's maiden voyage abroad, which was greeted as a near triumph by even a few Republicans who have been critical of the president.
GOP Senator Bob Corker said on Sunday that he'd spoken with the president in a lengthy phone call, and conveyed his approval of a trip that "was executed to near perfection," according to a statement released by Corker.
Calling the trip and the prep work of Trump's aides "a remarkable success," Corker added that Trump "has made great progress on the broad range of objectives his team articulated to me when I met with senior White House and State Department officials during their preparations."