Trump kicked off his 2020 re-election campaign with a major fundraiser at his own Washington hotel on Wednesday night, excluding media but charging attendees $35,000 each.
During his speech, according to audio of the event published on The Intercept, Trump singled out CNN, asking the audience whether he ought to sue what he described as “horrible human beings.”
Trump drew loud applause with his suggestion that he was prevailing in his campaign against the cable news network. “Boy, did CNN get killed over the last few days,” he said. Last week, CNN retracted a story about a Trump ally’s ties to a Russian bank, not because it was untrue but because there weren’t enough confirmed sources; three of the network’s journalists resigned in the wake of the flap.
Trump also riffed on Van Jones, a frequent CNN commentator whom conservative activists recently caught on camera as saying, “The Russia thing is just a big nothing burger,” in response to a question about what he thought might happen that week with the investigation into whether there was collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Jones’ comment would appear to contradict statements he’s made on the network about the severity of the investigation. He has dismissed the video as “edited, right-wing propaganda.”
“Van Jones—you see this man?” Trump said. “These are really dishonest people. Should I sue them? I mean, they’re phonies. [CNN President] 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’ve done to the name CNN, that I can tell you,” Trump said. “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?”
In typical fashion, Trump took the opportunity to praise his own record throughout his remarks, boasting of decreased border crossing figures by immigrants and a string of special congressional election victories. “I don’t think anybody as president has done as much in the first five months,” he claimed.
Unfortunately, the audio file didn’t capture the uproarious laugher that must have followed this remark.