UPDATE, with Brian Stelter video President Donald Trump began his Sunday morning with media-bashing tweets so virulent – the “enemy of the people” are “very dangerous & sick!” and “can also cause War!” – that journalists and the Sunday morning Beltway programs immediately struck back.
CNN’s Jake Tapper called them “hate tweets,” the same network’s Brian Stelter described them as part of a “hate movement” and conservative columnist Bill Kristol tweeted that Trump is “closer in spirit to Putin than to America.”
Stelter, on today’s Reliable Sources, noted that a caller to C-Span on Friday threatened to shoot both Stelter and CNN’s Don Lemon, a call that aired live and that Stelter re-played today to demonstrate the increasing threats against journalists. (Read the tweets, and watch Stelter’s commentary, below).
The chilling phone call, in which the caller erroneously accused Stelter and Lemon of calling all Trump supporters racist, ended with the threat, “They started the war, I see them I’m going to shoot them. Bye.”
Stelter pointed out today that the call came the day after Fox News’ Sean Hannity aired a two-year-old clip of Stelter questioning whether “racial anxiety” was a factor in “Trump’s rise.”
“I’m not blaming Hannity,” Stelter said. “I just thought the timing was odd.”
Earlier this week, MSNBC’s Katy Tur said that she and two female colleagues received notes recently from someone saying “I hope you get raped and killed.” The note ended with “MAGA.”
Trump launched today’s battle by tweeting, “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”
A short while later, he tweeted, “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”
Both the Washington Post and Tapper have reported that Trump is indeed increasingly worried about, as Tapper said today, Junior’s “legal exposure getting in the Mueller probe.”
But Tapper and other Sunday pundits also noted that Trump’s morning “enemy of the people” rants also acknowledged that the Trump Tower meeting attended by, among others, his son and a Russian government lawyer was designed to get information on Hillary Clinton. Though the president tweet-claimed that the oppo-research was “totally legal and done all the time in politics,” it thoroughly contradicts his earlier claims that the meeting was called to discuss American adoption of Russian orphans.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos this morning called out his This Week guest, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, for claiming a year ago on the show that Trump wasn’t involved in the Trump Tower meeting at all. Stephanopoulos played a clip from July 2017 in which Sekulow denied any involvement from the president.
Stephanopoulos called the contradiction a “remarkable shifting of explanations.” Sekulow said it was a simple mistake.
“I was in the case at that point, what, a couple of weeks?,” Sekulow said today. “I had bad information at that point. I made a mistake in my statement, I’ve talked about that before. That happens when you have cases like this.”
Here are the president’s tweets, followed by various responses: