President Donald Trump held a re-election fundraiser at his own Washington D.C. hotel on Wednesday where he railed against the “horrible human beings” at CNN, according to leaked audio of the event posted by The Intercept.
At the $US35,000 a plate event, Trump took aim at some recent troubles at CNN.
“Boy, did CNN get killed over the last few days,” Trump can be heard saying on the recording.
In the last week, three CNN staffers quit after publishing a now retracted story claiming the Senate Intelligence Committee was investigating the head of a large Russian investment fund who met with Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the Trump transition team, before the inauguration.
CNN removed the story with an editors note, which Scaramucci applauded as “the right move.”
The event, Trump’s first major re-election fundraiser, was not open to the press. Closing the event to media broke with tradition, according to the Associated Press, and caused some confusion earlier in the week as to whether pool reporters would be allowed to attend.
Trump also riffed on Van Jones, a frequent CNN commentator who conservative activists recently caught on camera saying “the Russia thing is just a big nothingburger” in response to the activists’ apparent question about what might happen that week with the investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence services.
Jones’ “nothingburger” comments appear to contradict statements he’s made on the network about the severity of the investigation.
“Van Jones — you see this man?” Trump said. “These are really dishonest people. Should I sue them? I mean, they’re phonies. Jeff Zucker, I hear he’s going to resign at some point pretty soon. I mean these are horrible human beings.”
“It’s a shame what they have done to the name CNN, that I can tell you,” Trump continued. “But as far as I’m concerned, I love it. If anybody’s a lawyer in the house and thinks I have a good lawsuit — I feel like we do. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
Trump has increased his attacks on the media lately while decreasing access to his administration by taking press briefings off camera.
Recently, Trump disturbed a number of prominent Republicans with comments about MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski “bleeding badly” from a facelift at his Florida residence.