Trump wants Pulitzers for Russia collusion reporting revoked

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Trump wants Pulitzers for Russia collusion reporting revoked

Former President Donald Trump called on the Pulitzer Board to rescind the prizes given to the New York Times and the Washington Post for their coverage of the Russian collusion story, saying they were based on “false reporting.”

Trump, in a statement released Sunday morning about the letter addressed to Bud Kliment, the interim administrator of the awards, said he wants the board to rescind the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting presented to the New York Times and the Washington Post because the reporting was based on “false reporting of a non-existent link between the Kremlin and the Trump Campaign.”

“As has been widely publicized, the coverage was no more than a politically motivated farce which attempted to spin a false narrative that my campaign supposedly colluded with Russia despite a complete lack of evidence underpinning this allegation,” he said in the letter. 

The former president, who also called for the prizes to be revoked in March 2019,  pointed to the indictment last month of Michael Sussmann, a former rep for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, by special counsel John Durham.

Durham alleges that Sussmann lied to the FBI when he tipped them off in September 2016 to a possible link between the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin.

Volunteers distribute a lookalike "special edition" of The Washington Post.
“The coverage was no more than a politically motivated farce which attempted to spin a false narrative that my campaign supposedly colluded with Russia,” former President Donald Trump claims.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Yes Labs

The Sussmann indictment “serves as a damning repudiation of the media’s obsession with the collusion story. The indictment pointedly accuses Mr. Sussman of making false statements to the FBI when he presented ‘evidence’ purporting to show secret communications between my organization and the Russia-based Alfa Bank,” Trump said in the letter.​

Sussmann told the FBI that he was relaying the information as a “good citizen,” but Trump said the indictment reveals that Sussmann was “working with other Democrats and billing his time to the Clinton campaign.”​

H​e said the indictment also shows ​t​hat​ “the FBI’s investigation revealed that the e-mail server at issue was not owned or operated by the Trump Organization but, rather, had been administered by a mass marketing email company that send advertisements for Trump hotels and hundreds of other clients.”

Robert Mueller.
In 2019, special counsel Robert Mueller and his team found no evidence of then-President Donald Trump conspiring with Moscow.
Jonathan Ernst/Pool/Getty Images

The former president and his allies have decried the Russian collusion investigation as a “witch hunt.”

In 2019, special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators found no evidence of Trump conspiring with Moscow.

Trump noted that the Pulitzer Board praised the newspapers for “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nations’ understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team, and his eventual administration.”​

The New York Times.
“The headlines themselves were extremely sensational and leaned heavily on unsubstantiated anonymous sources,” former President Donald Trump’s letter to the Pulitzer board reads.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

He said the articles focused on the “now-debunked Russia collusion conspiracy theory” and contained information based on anonymous sources.

“The headlines themselves were extremely sensational and leaned heavily on unsubstantiated anonymous sources. For example, much of the information contained in these articles were credited to ​’​people with knowledge,​’​ ​’​current and former officials,​’​ ​’​some senior U.S. officials,​’​ and other vaguely defined individuals​,” the letter said.

“As a result, the public was deprived of an independent means of assessing their credibility, their potential for political bias, and the source of their knowledge,” Trump continued.

Donald Trump.
Former President Donald Trump claims “the public was deprived of an independent means of assessing their credibility, their potential for political bias, and the source of their knowledge.”
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Trump says the prizes carry a “level of reverence” that the reporting being honored is “deemed credible, well-sourced and trustworthy.”

“When it becomes apparent that a Pulitzer Prize-winning work was based on shoddy, dubious and manifestly false reporting – as is the case here – the Pulitzer Prize Board must react accordingly​,” Trump said.

​He went on to say that he hopes the New York Times and the Washington Post “voluntarily surrender” the awards.

The Washington Post building.
Former President Donald Trump hopes the New York Times and the Washington Post “voluntarily surrender” their Pulitzer awards.
Alamy Stock Photo

But if they do not, “I would expect that you will take the necessary steps to rectify the situation, including stripping the recipients of their prize and retracting the false statements which remain on the Pulitzer website. Without holding the recipients to such a high standard of accountability, the integrity of the Pulitzer Prize namesake stands to be wholly compromised​.”

The Pulitzer Board did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ​

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