The Trumps have a main target each time new bombshell reports are published on Russia’s influence in the 2016 presidential election: the "fake news" media, with CNN being the bull's-eye.
The media in general has been the subject of a series of attacks from President Donald Trump and his aides since long before his inauguration, as the Republican candidate blasted news outlets over their coverage of his campaign and claimed the election was rigged against him.
But now, as emails from Donald Trump Jr. seem to indicate he was at least open to Russian government–backed opposition research against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the final months of the campaign season, the first family has once again pointed their criticisms toward CNN, seemingly in the hopes that Trump supporters will continue standing behind the president as they have since he assumed the Oval Office.
Eric Trump, the executive vice president of the Trump organization, who regularly tweets his disdain for the media, once again directly called out CNN reporters on Twitter Monday morning, after the network’s senior White House correspondent wrote Sunday, "Calling the American news media ‘fake news’ may feel good to some. It may energize the base. But it's bad for our democracy."
"Suddenly @CNN has a moral compass?" the first son responded Monday morning. "Giving the debate questions to your preferred candidate ahead of time - is that bad for our democracy?"
The message was then retweeted by Trump Jr., receiving over 15,000 likes and 5,000 retweets in five hours.
Former White House officials—including two ethics chiefs who worked under Republican and Democratic presidents—have come out against the revelations connecting Trump Jr. to a meeting with someone he was told was a Kremlin-connected attorney.
"Our elections are supposed to be decided by the American people without foreign interference," former President George W. Bush's ethics lawyer Richard Painter said Wednesday morning on BBC. "Someone who works with a foreign government in order to win an election here is really viewed as having betrayed their country. It is treason, whether it’s prosecuted under a treason statute or whether we use other statutes. We usually use other statutes."
Trump Jr., who isn’t an official adviser to the president but served on the Trump campaign as a surrogate, took to Fox News to battle back accusations of collusion and treason, claiming the event didn’t materialize any intelligence against Clinton and that most people would have arranged the meeting if in his position.
"It was such a nothing, there was no reason to follow up," Trump Jr. told Sean Hannity. "In the end, there was probably some bait and switch about what it was really supposed to be about. So there is nothing there."
Meanwhile, Trump’s White House has continued sharpening its attacks against CNN and the media, with national security aide Sebastian Gorka telling Anderson Cooper on CNN Wednesday the network was engaged in “fake news” for its coverage of the Russian developments.
Trump Jr. retweeted a video of the exchange, in which Gorka tells Cooper, "I'm sad to see CNN fall to this. I know you want salacious, sensational coverage for your ratings or your corporate sponsors, and your owners will have more money, but that’s not media. That’s not reportage. It’s just fake news."
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