UPDATE, with “Whales” trending In a string of tweets this morning, President Donald Trump attempted to clarify his explosive comments to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he would not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered him dirt on his fellow Americans in a political race.
During the Stephanopoulos interview, Trump, when asked whether he would notify the FBI or listen to information offered from the foreign countries, said, “maybe you do both.”
Among other attempted explanations today, Trump accused the “Fake News Media” of leaving out some of his Stephanopoulos interview – “the part that matters.” He did not specify which part that would be. But in one tweet today (see them all below), Trump offered a clue as to what he meant by suggesting that the “foreign governments” with whom he has recently met are “the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Wales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland.”
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“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said during the interview. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her weekly press conference today that Trump “does not know right from wrong,” and that his “cavalier” attitude toward foreign interference was an “assault on our democracy.” In a tweet this morning, Pelosi characterized Trump’s comments as a “green light” for Russians to again attack our elections.
Also included in Trump’s Thursday morning tweet storm was a murky accusation against Virginia’s Democratic Senator Mark Warner and some unidentified “talented entertainer” – which Warner later disputed and attempted to explain.
Trump wrote: “When Senator @MarkWarnerVA spoke at length, and in great detail, about extremely negative information on me, with a talented entertainer purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he immediately call the FBI? NO, in fact he didn’t even tell the Senate Intelligence Committee of which he is a member. When @RepAdamSchiff took calls from another person, also very successfully purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he call the FBI, or even think to call the FBI? NO!”
When CNN’s Manu Raju asked Warner about the president’s accusation, Warner said, “I don’t have any idea, I think he’s talking about actually something that happened with Mr. Schiff.” (As CNN explained, Schiff once received a prank call from Russian radio comedians, which Schiff later reported to law enforcement). Warner’s office had previously been contacted by a lobbyist, as CNN reports, “to try and arrange witness testimony for his committee with Christopher Steele.”
Said Warner today that “when I had contact with someone that, that’s been reported, first thing I did was, of course I contacted the FBI.”
Other portions of Trump’s Thursday morning tweetstorm drew some less weighty responses. Even aside from his unnecessary “U.K.” denotation following “the Queen of England,” Trump’s reference to Prince Charles as the “Prince of Whales” had the president once again playing straight man to Twitter.
The misspelled tweet was quickly replaced with corrected version, but not before being captured by, among others, CNN’s Jake Tapper, who added a literary punchline: “Ahab some issues with this one.”
Tapper, of course, wasn’t the only one who couldn’t resist the bait: “Whale” has been trending on Twitter all day. Plenty of jibes to choose from, but this one, from BuzzfeedUK’s Hazel Shearing, is pretty hard to beat:
Here are Trump’s Thursday morning tweets, and a selection of responses:
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