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Trump & Spicer Blame Russia Scandal on “Illegal Leaks” Rather Than Lies by Senior Officials

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President Trump initially responded to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation Tuesday morning by tweeting, “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?” Later on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also tried to make the story about “illegal leaks.” For more, we speak with California Democratic Congressmember Ted Lieu.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with Congressman Ted Lieu of California in light of the latest revelations and the White House chaos that is underway right now. On Tuesday morning, President Trump initially responded to Michael Flynn’s resignation by tweeting, quote, “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on North Korea etc.?” unquote. On Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was questioned about Trump’s comment.

REPORTER: The president tweeted last—this morning, the “real story” is leaks, “illegal leaks.”

PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: It is leaks. But if you think about this, understand that all of this information was leaked. I mean, I got to—and again, I know we’ve got this—me lecturing you about what the story should be, but I think that there’s a real story here, the idea that not just in this administration, but the Obama administration, going back to the Bush administration and back, that we have an issue where classified information, of which this would be, is handled in such a way that it is being given out. And I know in some cases it’s a good story, and I understand that, and that’s to some degree your responsibility to write that. But I think there’s also a story here, with the amount of leaks that are coming out, of people that are entrusted with national security secrets and classified information are leaking it out.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept wrote, “It’s hard to put into words how strange it is to watch the very same people—from both parties, across the ideological spectrum—who called for the heads of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, and so many other Obama-era leakers today heap praise on those who leaked the highly sensitive, classified SIGINT information that brought down Gen. Flynn.” Again, those the words of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, famous for going to Hong Kong and meeting with the whistleblower Ed Snowden.

Ted Lieu, you’re a Democratic congressman from California. Your response to this? You were praising the press, saying that the press has broken this story, showing the importance of an independent media. What about the importance of whistleblowers that provided this information? I mean, this is clearly coming from the intelligence community. What did the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, recently say? He was shocked how President Trump was going after the intelligence community, because, he said, they’ll get you “six ways from Sunday.” But what about the importance of whistleblowers?

REP. TED LIEU: Well, let me first say that Congress has recognized the importance of whistleblowers for democracy. That’s why Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act, as well as an enhancement to that act. I encourage all federal employees to read that law. In addition, there is a presidential directive—I believe it’s number 19—that also provides certain protections when it comes to classified materials. And it’s important in a democracy that if people see evidence of wrongful misconduct, that they get that out, so that people can do something about it. And in this case, I do want to commend the patriots and the whistleblowers that told America that basically Michael Flynn had lied to the vice president and lied to the American public. And we need a free and fair press that can expose this evidence and this kind of misconduct, so the American people know what’s actually happening with their own government.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Michael Flynn is out. He resigned, but clearly a forced resignation, with President Trump under enormous pressure for many days as this information was coming out.

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Rep. Lieu on Kellyanne Conway: White House Should Not Be Used for Enriching the President’s Family

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