President Donald Trump went on the attack against the news media at a gathering of conservative activists Friday hours after lashing out at the FBI over leaks about an agency investigation into contacts between his campaign and Russian officials.
Trump said he only considers “fake news” outlets to be “the enemy of the people,” but went on to charge that many in the media are dishonest and he accused them of fabricating sources for stories.
“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” Trump said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Maryland. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out. A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible horrible human being. Let them say it to my face. Let there be no more sources.”’
About two hours beforehand, Trump’s own aides briefed reporters anonymously on White House chief of staff Reince Priebus’s discussions with FBI leaders concerning news reports on contacts between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials. Trump himself has disseminated information via his Twitter feed and in speeches that he’s attributed to unnamed people.
CNN reported Thursday evening that Priebus had asked the FBI to knock down media stories about the Russia contacts. A senior administration official told reporters Friday that the request was only made after an FBI leader indicated to the White House that the bureau didn’t believe the news reports were accurate.
Trump has been a semi-regular participant at CPAC, and told an adoring audience on Friday that he would be there every year during his presidency. At his last appearance in 2015, Trump teased the possibility he would actually mount a presidential campaign, saying he wanted “badly” to run.
But Trump hasn’t always been a favorite of the activists at the conference. The conference tweeted that his decision to skip the conference last year sent “a clear message to conservatives.”
Trump said he thought last year he’d be “too controversial” for the event.
During the 2015 speech, he garnered boos from the assembled crowd when he said he wanted to use ground troops to combat Islamic State. In 2013, hundreds of seats remained unfilled at the future president’s 8:45 a.m. address.
Trump’s address followed appearances on Thursday by several top White House and administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon.