Former President Trump is still fuming about the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians before the 2016 election, and now he wants repercussions for two newspapers that reported on it and jointly won the Pulitzer for national reporting in 2018. The former president released a statement Sunday that blasted the New York Times and Washington Post for their coverage, published over a seven-month period in 2017, which he calls a "politically motivated farce." Trump faults the newspapers' use of anonymous sources, calls the collusion theory a "debunked" one, and claims the publications ran with their articles despite a "complete lack of evidence."
"It has since been confirmed that the allegations were false, and I have been exonerated of these charges," Trump writes. Insider's take: not quite. The outlet notes that while special counsel Robert Mueller—who oversaw the probe into Russian election interference in 2016 and possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign—didn't recommend prosecutors charge Trump based on the evidence he saw, he also didn't recommend they not charge him. In fact, in May 2019, Mueller noted that "if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so."
That isn't stopping Trump from demanding consequences for what he calls "shoddy" and "dubious" reporting and "sensational" headlines, citing the recent indictment of Michael Sussman, a cybersecurity lawyer who used to work for the Clinton campaign, to bolster his case. Insider notes that Sussman, who tipped off the FBI on possible correspondence between the Trump campaign and a Russian bank, is accused by special counsel John Durham of lying to the FBI about who his employer was at the time he alerted the agency.
Trump says in his statement that he hopes the two newspapers will give back their awards on their own, but if not, "the Pulitzer Prize Board must act accordingly" and "rectify the situation." He also wants the panel to wipe "false statements which remain on the Pulitzer website." The Guardian notes that only one Pulitzer has ever been withdrawn, in 1981, when Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke admitted to making up a story about an 8-year-old heroin addict. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)