Trump: Leaks are real, news is fake

Slamming news reports based on leaks from anonymous officials, President Trump acknowledged that the leaks coming out of his administration are "real," but said the news is still "fake." 

“The leaks are real,” he said during a lengthy Thursday press conference at the White House. "You’re the one who wrote about them and reported them. The leaks are real.”

“The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake. Over the course of time I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m OK with that. I’m not OK when it’s fake.”

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Trump said the media needs to work on gaining the public trust.

“I think it should be straight,” he said of reporting. "I think it’d frankly be more interesting. You have a lower approval rating than Congress.”

“Honestly, the public would appreciate it,” Trump added. "I’d appreciate it. I know how everybody’s ratings are right now, but I think they’d be better.”

Trump denied during Thursday’s conference that aides from his 2016 presidential campaign were in contact with Russian officials.

“You can talk all you want about Russia, which is all a fake news, fabricated deal,” he said when asked about media stories earlier this week.

“Well, I have nothing to do with it,” Trump responded when asked if he could definitively say none of his staff had recurring interactions with the Russians.

Trump earlier Thursday promised to punish people who had leaked damaging information about the inner workings of his White House to the press. 

“We’re going to find the leakers and they’re going to pay a big price,” he told reporters in the Roosevelt Room during a meeting with GOP lawmakers.

Trump’s administration has repeatedly struggled with leaks from the intelligence community to the press.

Reports emerged Tuesday that top aides and allies to Trump’s 2016 bid were in frequent contact with senior Russian intelligence officials, according to intercepted phone calls and phone records.

Current and former U.S. officials reportedly said they had seen no evidence of collusion in regards to last year’s presidential election or the hacking of Democratic organizations beforehand.