Donald Trump’s latest media target is Chuck Todd, after the journalist apologized for airing an incomplete clip of AG William Barr that mischaracterized something he said about dropping charges against Michael Flynn.
Donald Trump, in the midst of a Mother’s Day tweetstorm, called for NBC News to fire Meet The Press host Chuck Todd. The president, 73, bashed Todd for using an abbreviated quote from Attorney General William Barr on his show, in order to criticize the Department of Justice for dropping charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd should be FIRED by “Concast” (NBC) for this fraud,” Trump tweeted. “He knew exactly what he was doing. Public Airwaves = Fake News!” Trump also tagged the official Twitter accounts for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its chairman, Ajit Pai. Barr’s spokesperson, Kerri Kupec, called out Todd and MSNBC first on Twitter, providing transcripts (SEE HERE) that showed the program cut off an answer the attorney general gave during an interview with CBS.
In the clip shown on Meet The Press, an interviewer can be heard asking, “When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written?” Barr responds, “Well, history is written by the winners. So, it largely depends on who’s writing the history.” The clip ends there. Todd says to his panel, “I was struck, Peggy [Noonan], by the cynicism of the answer. It’s a correct answer. But he’s the attorney general. He didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that, yeah, this is a political job.” As Kupec pointed out, Barr’s full answer is a little more nuanced than that.
In the transcript from the CBS interview, Barr says: “Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history. But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice and it undid what was an injustice,” he claimed. Meet The Press issued an apology in response to Kupec’s tweet on May 10, writing, “Earlier today, we inadvertently and inaccurately cut short a video clip of an interview with AG Barr before offering commentary and analysis. The remaining clip included important remarks from the attorney general that we missed, and we regret the error.”
Flynn was one of the former Trump aides convicted in special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia probe. Flynn pleaded guilty — twice — in 2017 to lying to the FBI about communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Flynn’s sentencing hearing was delayed twice, most recently in February 2020, after he asked to change his guilty plea. In a court filing first obtained by the Associated Press, the DOJ moved to dismiss the charges “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information.” The DOJ said that the interview between Flynn and investigators in January 2017 was “unjustified.” Nor, they argued, was it conducted on a “legitimate investigative basis.”
The department also said it couldn’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that Flynn lied; they claimed that after the interview, FBI agents “expressed uncertainty as to whether Mr Flynn had lied.” The DOJ further argued that proving someone made a false statement “requires more than a lie. It also requires demonstrating that such a statement was ‘material’ to the underlying investigation.”
Trump’s attack on Todd was just one of 100+ tweets he sent the night of May 10. The president went on a wild, lengthy rant against some of his favorite enemies, including former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former President Barack Obama, all because they accused him of mishandling the Flynn situation. Trump retweeted dozens of conspiracy theorists who raged about “Obamagate”, baselessly accusing Obama of sabotaging Trump by having Flynn investigated (he did not).
Todd is just one of the many journalists Trump has attacked within the past few weeks. The president called NBC’s Brian Williams “dumber than hell” and a “liar” on Twitter, seemingly unprompted. He bashed MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace for defending former Vice President Joe Biden, calling her a “3rd rate lap dog.” And he said in an interview that CBS journalists Paula Reid and Weijia Jiang, who he’s clashed with at coronavirus task force briefings, should be more like Donna Reed. Welcome to the club, Chuck Todd.
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