‘Phony’ source derided by Trump turns out to be a White House official briefing a group of reporters

The White House did not immediately comment on President Trump inaccurately accusing the New York Times of quoting an official "who doesn't exist."
(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump accused the New York Times on Saturday of inventing a source for a story who, in fact, was a White House official conducting a briefing for reporters under the condition that the official not be named.

Trump said on Twitter that the Times quoted an official “who doesn’t exist,” and he referenced a line in the story about a possible summit with North Korea, which read: “a senior White House official told reporters that even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.”

Said Trump: “WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources.”

The Times reported in a story about the tweet that it had cited “a senior White House official speaking to a large group of reporters in the White House briefing room.”


The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the use of unnamed sources and has inaccurately labeled information related by unnamed officials “fake news.” Still, his White House regularly arranges briefings with officials who demand anonymity before relaying information, a practice also used by previous administrations.

At the briefing, which was attended by the Associated Press, the official cast doubt on the feasibility of a June 12 summit between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

The White House press office invited reporters to the background briefing, either to attend in person or to call in, and insisted that the official not be named.


The AP reporter in attendance questioned why the briefing was not on the record, in which case the official’s name could be used. The official said that the president had been talking publicly during the day, as had Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that the briefing was intended to provide “background context.”