- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2020

President Trump tangled with a CNN reporter on Tuesday over leaked reports of Russian interference in the 2020 election, telling journalist Jim Acosta that “you probably have the worst record in the history of broadcasting.”

At a press conference in India, Mr. Trump suggested that CNN had apologized for “highly exaggerated” reports that Russia was trying to help socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont win the Democratic primary, with the ultimate goal of benefiting the president.

“I want no help from any country and I haven’t been given help from any country,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Acosta. “But if you see what CNN, your wonderful network, said, I guess they apologized … for saying certain things that weren’t true. Tell me, what was their apology yesterday?”

Mr. Acosta retorted, “Mr. President, I think our record on delivering the truth is a lot better than yours sometimes, if you don’t mind me saying.”

The president, his voice rising as Mr. Acosta tried to interrupt him, replied, “Let me tell you about your record. Your record is so bad, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You probably have the worst record in the history of broadcasting.”

Mr. Trump repeated that no U.S. intelligence officials have informed him that Russia was trying to help Mr. Sanders, the front-runner in the Democratic race.

He again blamed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, for trying to undermine Mr. Sanders’ campaign as part of a broad effort by establishment Democrats.

“Schiff leaked it, in my opinion,” the president said. “He shouldn’t be leaking things like that. Bernie is probably winning. He’s got a head of steam. They maybe don’t want him, for obvious reasons. So they put out a thing that Russia’s backing him. This is what they do. I’ve gone through it for a long time. I get the game better than anybody. They ought to stop the leaking from the Intelligence Committee.”

The president said the controversy, which arose from an intelligence briefing to Congress, did not prompt him last week to remove acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from his post. He noted that Mr. Maguire was limited by statute to serve until March 11.

“By statute, we would have had to change him anyway,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re talking to five different [candidates] right now. Joe Maguire is a very excellent guy, he’s a very good man.”

Asked if Mr. Maguire was forced out for not being sufficiently loyal, Mr. Trump replied, “No, not at all.”

Mr. Acosta ended their exchange with, “Thank you, sir.”

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