President Trump on Wednesday labeled The New York Times “a true enemy of the people” one day after an extensive report detailing the ways in which he has sought to influence the investigations into his presidency and allies.
“The New York Times reporting is false,” Trump tweeted. “They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
The president’s tweet did not refute any specific reporting from the Times, but marked yet another escalation in his sustained attacks on his hometown paper and the media as a whole.
New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger issued a statement hours later condemning the president’s use of the term “enemy of the people” as “dangerous” and inaccurate.
“It is particularly reckless coming from someone whose office gives him broad powers to fight or imprison the nation’s enemies,” Sulzberger said. “As I have repeatedly told President Trump face to face, there are mounting signs that this incendiary rhetoric is encouraging threats and violence against journalists at home and abroad.”
Sulzberger, who has met with Trump on at least two separate occasions in the past year, noted that past presidents have complained about coverage of their administration, but “fiercely defended” the free press.
Trump’s latest diatribe against the Times came after the newspaper reported Tuesday that Trump asked then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker late last year to put U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in charge of the investigation in New York’s Southern District into Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.
Berman, an ally of Trump who donated to his 2016 campaign, had been recused from the investigation, and Whitaker did not act on Trump’s request.
Trump denied that he requested Berman be put in charge of the investigation when asked about it Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t know who gave you that,” Trump said, calling the report “fake news.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement that the White House has not asked Whitaker to interfere in investigations, pointing to his congressional testimony from earlier this month indicating as much.
Trump has a well-documented track record of attacking the press, and the Times in particular. He has called negative coverage of him and his administration “fake news” and referred to reporters and news outlets as the “enemy of the people.”