Donald Trump hates leaks, really hates ’em, and I’ll tell you how I know. He keeps saying so on the Twitter, which is the closest thing we have to a window on the leak-hating president's leak-hating soul.
He hates leaks almost as much as he hates anonymous sources and fake news.
“Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don't mention names,” Trump tweeted in his latest double-barrel digital outburst, “it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”
Take that, you leakers and leakees!
It’s not hard to figure what had Trump so steamed. He’s just returned from his despot-hugging and bill-collecting trip abroad, where he sucked up to Middle Eastern dictators and harangued America’s closest European allies. And wouldn’t you know it? His triumphant weekend return was undermined by a fresh batch of anonymously sourced leaks, fingering son-in-law Jared Kushner for secret back-channel communications with the very same Russians who had hacked the election that installed Trump as president.
But wait! When did Trump start hating anonymous sources and leaks so much?
He didn’t hate them when he was the one doing the leaking. He didn’t hate them in the 1990s when he created a false identity — PR man “John Miller” — to plant flattering stories about his own love life. He didn’t hate them when he tweeted in 2012: “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” He certainly didn’t hate leaks during last year’s campaign when he begged WikiLeaks to leak Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails.
This is a man, don’t forget, whose own White House aides constantly go on background to speak with reporters. This man whose favorite rhetorical devise begins with the phrase, “Many people tell me” — followed by an assertion such as “thousands of Muslims celebrated” in New Jersey after 9/11 or “Obama tapped my phones.”
And the leaks keep coming, by and about Donald Trump. Only now is it possible to articulate what can only be called the Official Trump Rule on Leaks: Believe no leaks unless you hear them directly from me.
Now go ahead and leak that, anonymous!
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is a veteran journalist, best-selling author and frequent commentator on CNN and other TV networks. Follow him on Twitter @henican.