New York Times slams Trump: 'Accusing the press of treason is dangerous'

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By Dartunorro Clark  with NBC News Politics
Image: President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of Whit
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of White House on June 11, 2019.   -   Copyright  Evan Vucci AP

The New York Times called it "dangerous" for President Donald Trump to accuse the paper of a "virtual act of treason" after it published a story about the U.S. increasing digital incursions into Russia's electrical power grid as retaliation for Moscow's cyber warfare.

Trump lashed out at the paper in a pair of tweets Saturday night, hours after it was published, calling the story "not true" and the media "true cowards" and "the enemy of the people."

"Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country," he tweeted.

"ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!"

The story, citing current and former government officials, revealed the previously unreported deployment of American computer code into Russia's electrical power grid and "other targets" to serve as a warning and deterrent to the Kremlin's cyber-operations.

Administration officials told the Times that Trump was kept out of the loop on the U.S. cyber attacks for fear he might divulge the sensitive information to the Russians.

The New York Times' official public relations account replied to Trump's tweet Saturday night and called the accusation "dangerous" and noted that the paper reached out to the administration for comment on the story and Trump's own officials said they had "no concerns" about the story, which the story noted was "perhaps an indication that some of the intrusions were intended to be noticed by the Russians."

"Accusing the press of treason is dangerous. We described the article to the government before publication. As our story notes, President Trump's own national security officials said there were no concerns," the paper said in a tweet.