U.S. President Donald Trump attacked the news media and dismissed leaks from the White House as "fake news", following reports his son-in-law tried to set up a secret channel of communications with Moscow before Trump took office.
Shortly after Trump's remarks on Twitter, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly made the rounds of Sunday television news shows to praise any so-called back channel communications, especially with Russia, as "a good thing."
The Republican president returned to the White House after a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe to face more questions about alleged communications between Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington.
"It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media," Trump wrote in a series of Twitter posts on Sunday.
It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
In a statement later on Sunday night, carried by the New York Times, Trump praised Kushner and the work he has done in the White House.
“Jared is doing a great job for the country,” he said. “I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.”
The White House faces mounting questions about potential ties between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign, which are also the subject of criminal and congressional investigations.
Trump officials were preparing to establish a "war room" to address an issue that has begun to dominate his young presidency.