Former President Donald Trump urged the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2018 National Reporting awards given to The New York Times and The Washington Post for coverage of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2020 campaign, saying their stories were based on “false reporting” and a “complete lack of evidence.”
“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,” Trump wrote in a letter addressed to Bud Kliment, the interim administrator of the awards, The Washington Examiner reported.
Trump cited an indictment of Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in special counsel John Durham’s investigation. Durham alleges that Sussmann “lied to the FBI about who he was representing when he tipped the agency in September 2016 to a possible link between the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin,” the Examiner wrote.
Trump said the 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.”
The former president also said the papers’ stories cited only “‘people with knowledge,’ ‘current and former officials,’ ‘some senior U.S. officials,’ and other vaguely defined individuals.”
“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,” Trump said. “Without holding the recipients to such a high standard of accountability, the integrity of the Pulitzer Prize namesake stands to be wholly compromised.”
Meanwhile, Trump said in a new interview that he would beat Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis should the two face off in a 2024 primary but added he doesn’t think DeSantis will run against him.
“If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump said during an interview with Yahoo Finance Live, set to be released on Monday. But he added, “I think most people would drop out, I think he would drop out.”
A straw poll in July at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) put DeSantis squarely in the running.
When asked who they would vote for in the Republican primary if it were held that day, 70% of respondents said Trump. DeSantis was a distant second at just 21%.
But when asked who they would vote for if Trump wasn’t an option, DeSantis topped the poll at 68%.
DeSantis, who was a vocal supporter of Trump throughout his four years as president, is up for re-election in 2022. On Thursday, he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he intends to run for governor again next year and is “not considering anything beyond doing my job.”