Trump de­fends his son on Twit­ter

From his pri­vate golf club, U.S. pres­i­dent says the me­dia are ‘dis­tort­ing democ­racy’

Toronto Star - - WORLD - PHILIP RUCKER

PIS­CAT­AWAY, N.J.— U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­fended his son Don­ald Trump Jr., con­trast­ing his Rus­sia meet­ing with Hil­lary Clin­ton’s deleted emails and ac­cused the news me­dia of “DIS­TORT­ING DEMOC­RACY” in a se­ries of an­gry state­ments is­sued early Sun­day.

Tweet­ing from his pri­vate golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spend­ing the weekend, Trump lashed out at the me­dia for cov­er­age of the dis­clo­sure that his old­est son held a meet­ing last year with a Krem­lin-con­nected Rus­sian lawyer who of­fered dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton, his cam­paign op­po­nent.

Trump tweeted, “Hil­laryClin­ton (sic) can il­le­gally get the ques­tions to the De­bate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is be­ing scorned by the Fake News Me­dia?”

Trump was re­fer­ring to emails Clin­ton deleted from her pri­vate server as U.S. sec­re­tary of state, as well as to her cam­paign be­ing pro­vided an early look at a ques­tion in a pri­mary de­bate against Sen. Bernie San­ders. The de­bate con­tro­versy sur­faced only be­cause of an il­le­gal hack of Demo­cratic emails, which U.S. in­tel­li­gence has con­cluded was or­ches­trated by Rus­sia, and their sub­se­quent re­lease on Wik­iLeaks.

In another tweet Sun­day morning, Trump ac­cused the news me­dia of “phony un­named sources & highly slanted & even fraud­u­lent re­port­ing.” He said the “#Fake News,” the pres­i­dent’s term for news out­lets whose ag­gres­sive re­port­ing he does not like, is “DIS­TORT­ING DEMOC­RACY in our coun­try!”

Trump also thanked a for­mer cam­paign ad­viser, Michael Ca­puto, for his tes­ti­mony Fri­day be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, which is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian med­dling in the U.S. elec­tion and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with the Trump cam­paign.

Ca­puto told re­porters that he tes­ti­fied in a closed ses­sion for nearly four hours and told House in­ves­ti­ga­tors, “I had no con­tact with Rus­sians and I never heard of any­one in the Trump cam­paign talk­ing with Rus­sians.”

Trump tweeted, “Thank you to for­mer cam­paign ad­viser Michael Ca­puto for say­ing so pow­er­fully that there was no Rus­sian col­lu­sion in our win­ning cam­paign.” Ca­puto worked on the Trump cam­paign as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­viser through­out the Repub­li­can pri­mary sea­son but left the team in sum­mer 2016 as the gen­eral elec­tion got un- der­way. He has long ties to Rus­sia, hav­ing lived in the coun­try in the 1990s and work­ing in 2000 as a con­trac­tor with the Rus­sian con­glom­er­ate Gazprom Me­dia to im­prove Putin’s im­age in the United States.

Trump has been stay­ing in Bedminster at his Trump Na­tional Golf Club since re­turn­ing from Paris on Fri­day evening.

The pres­i­dent has been watch­ing the U.S. Women’s Open, tweet­ing five times over the weekend about his at­ten­dance at the golf tour­na­ment. He spent much of Satur­day in an en­closed view­ing area, watch­ing the golfers on tele­vi­sion and en­ter­tain­ing spec­ta­tors by flash­ing a thumbs up or pos­ing for pho­tos.

On Sun­day morning, Trump boasted that his sup­port­ers “far out-num­bered the pro­test­ers” at the golf club: “Thank you to all of the sup­port­ers, who far out-num­bered the pro­test­ers, yes­ter­day at the Women’s U.S. Open. Very cool!”

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has been watch­ing the U.S. Women’s Open from an en­closed view­ing area.

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