President Donald Trump again took aim at CNN on Sunday by tweeting a video of him clotheslining a wrestling opponent — the network’s logo superimposed over the man’s face.
Using his Twitter handle, @realDonaldTrump, the president sent the video over social media with the words, “#FraudNewsCNN #FNN” for “Fraud News Network.”
Even after Trump’s invective-laden tweets last week targeting MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the wrestling video still had the ability to stun and distract on a day the GOP had hoped would be dominated by talk show pitches for the health care bill.
CNN, which has been in a running feud with Trump over the network’s coverage of his young presidency, released a sharply worded statement on Twitter Sunday morning accusing the president of encouraging violence against reporters and engaging in “juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office.”
The Washington Examiner reported that the original video came from a 2007 WrestleMania match between Trump and WWE owner Vince McMahon. In the brief video clip, Trump slams McMahon to the ground just outside the wrestling ring and pummels him with punches and elbows. McMahon’s face is obscured in the video by what appears to be a digitally added red and white CNN logo.
The video was posted four days ago on a pro-Trump section of Reddit, a popular social media discussion board.
Last week, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump “in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.”
In reference to the spokeswoman’s comments, the CNN statement said: “It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters. Clearly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied when she said the President had never done so.”
“Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is instead involved in juvenile behavior far below the dignity of his office. We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”
Trump on Saturday had defended his use of Twitter after bipartisan criticism of his tweets attacking Scarborough and Brzezinski.
“My use of social media is not Presidential — it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!” he tweeted.
Republican strategist and CNN commentator Ana Navarro, on ABC’s “This Week,” called Trump’s tweets against the media “an incitement to violence. He is going to get someone killed in the media.”
White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert, on ABC News’ “This Week,” dismissed the suggestion.
“I think that no one would perceive that as a threat. I hope they don’t. I do think that he’s beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to,” Bossert said.
He defended the president’s Twitter use as a way he can communicate directly with the public.
“There’s a lot of cable news shows that reach directly into hundreds of thousands of viewers, and they’re really not always very fair to the president,” Bossert said. “He’s the most genuine president and the most non-politician president that we’ve seen in my lifetime.”
Trump is vacationing at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort for the holiday weekend.
Republican lawmakers dispatched to the various Sunday talk shows as surrogates for the health care bill, instead found themselves peppered with questions about the president’s latest social media broadsides. Some, like Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, criticized Trump’s nearly daily tweets.
Sasse said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump was trying to “weaponize distrust.”
“There’s an important distinction to draw between bad stories, or crappy coverage, and the right that citizens have to argue about that and complain about that . . . The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment, and you don’t get to separate the freedoms that are in there,” he said.
Other GOP senators shied away from directly taking on the president’s actions.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), said Trump “takes a unique approach, one that differs from many of his predecessors. It’s not going to do any good for me or anyone else to come in and just comment on things we might not like about his Twitter behavior. The best thing we can do when we want to elevate civil dialogue in our American political discourse is to do whatever we can to make sure that we treat others kindly, with dignity and respect.”
Senate Republicans are struggling to secure enough votes to pass health care legislation that repeals and replaces Obamacare. Sasse and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky pitched repealing the Affordable Care Act before working out a plan to replace it.
Sasse, on “State of the Union,” said Congress should repeal Obamacare and implement a “delay” until a deal is reached on a replacement plan. Lawmakers should spend 18-hour days next month discussing the proposals in televised public hearings until a new proposal is struck, Sasse said.
If leadership cannot usher through a repeal and replacement plan, “we should unbundle them,” Sasse said.
On Friday, Trump tweeted: “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently rejected that proposal last week, saying on Friday, “we are going to stick with that path.”
“We’re getting close,” said White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short on “Fox News Sunday.”
“It is a true crisis and we need to do something about it,” Short said. He also acknowledged the proposal to repeal first.
“If the replacement part is too difficult for Republicans to come together, then let’s go back and take care of the first step and repeal.”