Last week, Richard Blumenthal LAW ‘73, the senior senator from Connecticut, became one of the latest recipients of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attacks on Democratic politicians.
In a March 25 statement to all television producers, Trump campaign director of communications Tim Murtaugh warned media outlets about the “credibility of certain guests,” including Blumenthal, three Democratic representatives, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and former CIA Director John Brennan. The statement came on the heels of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report to Attorney General William Barr, which found no evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election. Murtaugh cited comments that these Democrats had made in television appearances tying Trump’s campaign to Russian election interference as proof that they are untrustworthy guests.
“The issuance of these definitive findings comes after two years of Democrat leaders and others lying to the American people by vigorously and repeatedly claiming there was evidence of Collusion,” Murtaugh said in the statement.
The statement urged television networks to ask themselves if the guests mentioned should appear on television in the future in light of “the outrageous and unsupported claims made in the past.” It also recommended that the networks replay prior footage of the speakers tying Trump to Russian collusion and confront them about their “outlandish, false claims.”
Murtaugh quoted specific comments from Democratic politicians expressing confidence that collusion occurred.
“The evidence is pretty clear that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” Blumenthal said on MSNBC in October 2018. Blumenthal has long been one of the president’s most vocal critics.
Blumenthal’s deputy press secretary, Courtney Chandler, did not respond to request for comment.
The full Mueller report has not yet been made public. Last week, Barr released a four-page summary of the more than 300-page report concluding that the investigation “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
According to Barr’s summary, Mueller employed 19 lawyers and worked with a team of around 40 FBI agents and other intelligence personnel to issue more than 2,800 subpoenas, execute more than 500 search warrants, make 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence and interview approximately 500 witnesses. The investigation resulted in indictments or guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies, including for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. The report, however, did not exonerate Trump. Many Democratic politicians, including presidential hopefuls, have called for the report to be released in full. Blumenthal and fellow Connecticut senator Chris Murphy were among those who called for the release of the full report.
“We cannot reach final conclusions from Barr’s brazenly devious letter,” Blumenthal tweeted on March 28. “Full disclosure of the Mueller report is of utmost urgency.”
The senator also called for a “legal justification” of any redactions that the Attorney General makes before releasing the report to the public and for a full, unredacted version to be distributed to members of Congress.
Yale College Democrats Communications Director Eli Sabin ’22 told the News that the Dems support the calls for releasing the full report, especially in light of the many falsehoods Trump has spread.
“The request from the Trump campaign is ridiculous, especially considering that President Trump is a serial liar,” wrote Sabin in an email to the News. “It is very clear that the President and members of his campaign team behaved unethically in their business dealings and contacts with Russia, and we deserve to know the extent and details of that unethical conduct.”
Murphy also called for more action against Russia during a March 27 nomination hearing for Keith Krach, Trump’s nominee for the position of Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment. He emphasized the urgency of making Eastern European countries less reliant on Russian energy sources, and said that the country could “do more” to promote energy independence in the region.
This is not the first time that the two Connecticut senators have come under criticism from the president. Trump has repeatedly referred to Blumenthal as “Da Nang Dick” in reference to the senator’s past allusions to his service in Vietnam.
“I have now spent more time in Vietnam than Da Nang Dick Blumenthal, the third rate Senator from Connecticut (how is Connecticut doing?). His war stories of his heroism in Vietnam were a total fraud – he was never even there. We talked about it today with Vietnamese leaders!” Trump tweeted on Feb. 26.
Blumenthal — who served in the Marine Corps Reservists from 1970 to 1976 but never went to Vietnam — admitted that his past statements were misleading after a bombshell New York Times report revealed that he did not serve on the ground in Vietnam in May 2017. The president himself received five draft deferments during the war, including a medical exemption due to his claim that he suffered bone spurs in his heels.
Mueller’s investigation began in May 2017 and ended on March 22.
Nathalie Bussemaker | firstname.lastname@example.org