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July 22, 2017

In Twitter rant, Trump claims NY Times 'foiled' U.S. attempt to kill ISIS leader

President Donald Trump ripped off a slew of assertions on Twitter Saturday morning, including a claim that the "Failing New York Times" intentionally foiled a U.S. attempt to kill the leader of ISIS.

"The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist," Trump tweeted, referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "Their sick agenda over National Security."

Trump did not say anything further about the claim, but CBS News reported Saturday morning that his tweet came roughly 20 minutes after Fox News' "Fox and Friends" aired a segment about leaks. At one point, the chyron read "NYT FOILS U.S. ATTEMPT TO TAKE OUT AL-BAGHDADI."

According to a CBS News report, the Fox segment cited comments made by Gen. Raymond Thomas during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Friday. Speaking onstage to Fox News' Catherine Herridge, Thomas reportedly said on Friday that the U.S. gathered intelligence about al-Baghdadi's whereabouts in 2015 until "there were some leaks about what we were up to."

Thomas, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, appeared to refer to a New York Times story that ran in June 2015.

Despite Russian reports that Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike at the end of May, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly said Friday that U.S. officials continue to assume that al-Baghdadi is still alive.

"I think he's alive and I'll believe otherwise when we know we've killed him," Mattis said Friday.

Trump's claims about the newspaper comes days after he criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a sit-down interview with three New York Times reporters in the Oval Office. Trump said Sessions' recusal from all matters related to the country's ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 general election was "very unfair to the president."

"Sessions should have never recused himself," Trump told the Times, "and if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else."

The wide-ranging interview drew scrutiny from a number of national media outlets, including the Times.

Tweeting 10 times in a two-hour span Saturday morning, the president also touched on the usual suspects such as the "Amazon Washington Post," "Crooked Hillary Clinton," former FBI Director James Comey and the Affordable Care Act. Trump also stated that a U.S. president has "the complete power to pardon."

The president had already taken to social media Friday night to compliment Sean Spicer, who resigned as Trump's press secretary earlier in the day. Trump also opined that Spicer took "tremendous abuse from the Fake News Media."