Trump calls on Pulitzer committee to revoke prizes from WaPo, NYT, over ‘Russian collusion’

Former President Donald Trump is calling on the head of the Pulitzer prize commission to take back awards given to the Washington Post and The New York Times in 2018 over what he described as “false reporting” regarding the “Russian collusion” narrative associated with his successful 2016 campaign.

In a statement directed to Bud Kliment, the interim administrator of the awards, Trump said that the prizes, which were awarded to 10 reporters, combined, from both papers, were given mistakenly since the collusion narrative turned out to be incorrect.

“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, calling on the committee to “immediately rescind” the awards.

According to the Pulitzer’s website, the reporters were given the awards “for deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s 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.”

But subsequent investigations into the allegations that elements of Trump’s 2016 campaign team worked behind the scenes with Russian operatives to undermine the electoral processes turned up no evidence, including one by special prosecutor Robert Mueller and a number of congressional committees.

And because of that, Trump believes the prizes should be revoked since the stories were “based on false reporting of a non-existent link between the Kremlin and the Trump Campaign.”

The former president went on to reference special counsel John Durham’s recent indictment of Michael Sussman, a former attorney for the firm Perkins Coie, which counted Clinton and the Democratic National Committee as clients during the 2016 election cycle and played a central role in the creation of the discredited “Russia dossier.” Trump said Sussman’s 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,” he said, adding the stories were based on a “now-debunked Russia collusion conspiracy theory.”

“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​,” said Trump.

“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,” he added.

“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,” he wrote, going on to suggest that the reporters and the newspapers should “voluntarily surrender” their prizes.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told USA Today in March 2019 following the awards that her paper’s reporting was accurate.

“No report in our package of Pulitzer-prize winning work has been challenged,” she said.

“In fact, what we know of the Mueller report from the Attorney General’s summary confirms our coverage. Russia actively worked to upend the American elections in 2016 and there were multiple instances of Trump Transition and Administration officials having contact with Russia,” she noted further.

Trump, as president, called on the prizes to be revoked then as well.

Jon Dougherty


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