WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, in a tweet Thursday that laid bare his mounting frustration, combined his criticisms of the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and with what he disparages as “fake news” outlets.
“Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!” he posted.
The tweet came on the morning after the Senate panel announced its findings backing up the U.S. intelligence consensus that the Kremlin sought to disrupt the 2016 elections and should be expected to strike again in upcoming races. The wide-reaching probe is ongoing.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president’s tweet should not be interpreted as a literal call for the committee to divert its focus to news media outlets.
“I don’t know that that’s the case,” she said of Trump seeking an investigation into the press. “But I do think that we should call on all media to a higher standard.”
A representative for Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) did not respond to requests for comment on Trump’s tweet. A spokeswoman for vice chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) declined to comment.
The senators had said Wednesday that the issue of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is “still open.”
Trump has vehemently denied the campaign cooperated with the Kremlin.
Trump is an “incredible advocate” of the First Amendment but wants reporters held to a higher standard, Sanders said.
“With those freedoms also come responsibilities, and you have a responsibility to tell the truth, to be accurate,” she said.
“A lot of the times, you have opinions that are being presented as news, and they’re not.”
Trump this week has expressed his ire at coverage critical of his statements and actions during his visit to hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico. He also repeatedly condemned an NBC News report that his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, had considered resigning and called the president a “moron.”
On Thursday, Trump posted: “Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.”
NBC said it stands by its story and other outlets have confirmed its reporting.
Tillerson held an impromptu news conference Wednesday to reject the story and reaffirm his support of the president.
Late Thursday, CNN and The Associated Press reported that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators has recently questioned a former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia.
Also Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on his Republican colleagues to drop the repeal of state and local tax deductions in their tax overhaul.
Forty-four million — or one-third — of taxpayers take the deductions and save thousands of dollars, he said.
Every state has beneficiaries, not just high-taxed ones such as New York and California and the effect is “deep and wide,” he said at a Capitol news conference. “And I think it alone is going to kill the Republican plan as it is.”
House members of both parties representing Long Island say eliminating the deduction would hurt the middle class.
Sanders gave no indication that the Trump administration would reconsider the proposed repeal.
“One of the big things you have to look at is that most Americans don’t actually itemize deductions; 80 percent of the benefit goes to six-figure tax filers,” she said. “It isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense for working Americans across the country to subsidize the very wealthy in a few states.”