President Donald Trump lashed out again at Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, calling for him to be fired after the Sunday show aired an edited clip of Attorney General William Barr talking about the Justice Department’s decision to drop the Michael Flynn case.
This is certainly not the first time that Trump has targeted Todd: He’s tweeted or retweeted about him 14 other times since taking office, while the President has been on a tear about NBC and its parent company, Comcast, in some of his public statements and at briefings and rallies.
In the clip shown on Sunday’s Meet the Press, Barr, in an interview with CBS News’ Catherine Harridge last week, is asked, “When history looks back on this decision [to drop the Flynn case], how do you think it will be written?”
“Well, history is written by the winners. So largely it depends on who is writing the history,” Barr said.
Meet the Press cut the clip there. Todd, in a roundtable conversation with Richard Haass, Peggy Noonan and Kristen Welker, then said, “I was struck, Peggy, by the cynicism of the answer. It’s a correct answer. But he’s the attorney general. He didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that, yeah, this is a political job.”
A spokesperson for Justice Department, Kerri Kupec, objected to the editing, writing that what was left out was when Barr went on to say in the CBS News interview, “But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.”
She wrote, “Very disappointed by the deceptive editing/commentary by @ChuckTodd on @MeetThePress on AG Barr’s CBS interview. Compare the two transcripts below. Not only did the AG make the case in the VERY answer Chuck says he didn’t, he also did so multiple times throughout the interview.”
The show said that it was an honest error. Meet the Press tweeted back to Kupec on Sunday, “You’re correct. Earlier today, we inadvertently and inaccurately cut short a video clip of an interview with AG Barr before offering commentary and analysis. The remaining clip included important remarks from the attorney general that we missed, and we regret the error.” In coverage of the Flynn case last week, there was also plenty of commentary and coverage that focused solely on the soundbite, “history is written by the winners” and not the rest of Barr’s quote. CBS Evening News also cut off Barr’s quote when it ran portions of the exclusive interview on Thursday.
Late on Sunday, Trump, on a Mother’s Day tweetstorm of more than 100 tweets and retweets, picked up on the error, and accused Todd of intentionally leaving out the rest of Barr’s remarks. He also tweeted the name of FCC chairman Ajit Pai. The president has previously suggested that NBC’s license should be challenged, even though the FCC licenses individual stations, not networks. Pai also has said that the FCC does not have the authority to act on an issue of program content.
The Justice Department filed a motion last week to drop the case against Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. In November 2017, he pleaded guilty to making false statements about the nature of his contacts with the ambassador to Russia. Trump has repeatedly claimed that Flynn was unfairly prosecuted as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
But in February 2017, Flynn was fired from his position at the White House for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the conversation he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” Trump tweeted on December 2, 2017, shortly after Flynn’s plea.
On Monday, Trump tweeted or retweeted again on Todd. One FCC commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, responded to Trump’s tweet. “This is not how our rules work. The FCC doesn’t sanction stations for what journalists say,” she wrote.