President Donald Trump slammed the New York Times Saturday for using “phony sources” in a story citing a White House official – but the comments the paper referred to came from a formal background briefing attended by multiple news organizations and widely reported.
Trump appeared to be responding to a Times story about his on-again, off-again plans for a June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un..
“The Failing @nytimes quotes ‘a senior White House official,’ who doesn’t exist, as saying ‘even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed,’“ the president wrote on Twitter.
The Times cited a White House official in a story about Trump’s reversal on the summit following his abrupt decision to withdraw from the historic sit-down in a letter sent Thursday.
The paper reported that the official said holding the meeting on the originally scheduled date would be “impossible,” though in fact the official didn’t use the word during the background briefing, held on Thursday afternoon at the White House and organized by the press office.
“There’s a certain amount of actual dialogue that needs to take place at the working level with your counterparts to ensure that the agenda is clear in the minds of those two leaders when they sit down to actually meet and talk and negotiate, and hopefully make a deal. And June 12 is in 10 minutes, and it's going to be – you know,” the official said, according to a White House transcript. “But the President has said that he has – someday, that he looks forward to meeting with Kim.”
POLITICO was among the news organizations that participated in the call and reported the official’s comments at the time.
Reporters were quick to call the president out following his tweet.
“I mean, every reporter on the call knows who this official was, and this official exists,” Mike Warren, a senior writer for the conservative Weekly Standard wrote on Twitter. “And we all heard the official say it.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Saturday the White House pre-advance team is heading to Singapore as scheduled to move ahead with logistics. Trump has indicated he’s open to holding the June 12 summit, and Kim met Saturday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to get the meeting back on track.
Trump has repeatedly fumed at the unnamed White House sources in stories about his administration and the leaks that are spread through many of their quotes. POLITICO reported the president demanded and White House chief of staff John Kelly signed off on a plan to that would dismiss junior aides in the communications shop, who have been blamed for the leaks.
“WRONG AGAIN! Use real people,” Trump concluded on Saturday. “not phony sources.”
Michael Crowley contributed to this report.