Former President Donald Trump called on the Pulitzer Prize Board on Sunday to rescind the 2018 National Reporting awards granted to the New York Times and the Washington Post for their coverage of the Russian collusion story.
The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine, online journalism, literature and musical composition within the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University.
On Friday, Trump had asked a Florida court to mandate that Twitter restore his social media account. In the court document, Trump asked a District Court judge for the Southern District of Florida for a preliminary injunction enabling his online return, while his lawsuit against the social media giant continues.
In a statement about the letter addressed to Bud Kliment, the interim administrator of the Pulitzer awards, Trump said he wants the board to rescind the Prize presented to the two newspapers because the reporting was based on “false reporting of a non-existent link between the Kremlin and the Trump Campaign.
“As has been widely publicized, the coverage was no more than a politically motivated farce which attempted to spin a false narrative that my campaign supposedly colluded with Russia despite a complete lack of evidence underpinning this allegation,” Trump wrote in a letter addressed to Kliment.
Trump pointed to the indictment of Michael Sussmann, a former representative for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, by special counsel John Durham as evidence for his complaint.
Durham alleged Sussmann lied to the FBI when he tipped the agency in September 2016 to a possible link between the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin.
President Donald J. Trump's Letter to the Pulitzer Prizes pic.twitter.com/tJlOwf6GdU
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) October 3, 2021
The Sussmann indictment “serves as a damning repudiation of the media’s obsession with the collusion story. The indictment pointedly accuses Mr. Sussman of making false statements to the FBI when he presented ‘evidence’ purporting to show secret communications between my organization and the Russia-based Alfa Bank,” Trump added in the letter.
The former president also complained about the framing of the sources featured by the media outlets that received awards for the work, specifically pointing to articles that credited “’people with knowledge,’ ’current and former officials,’ ’some senior U.S. officials,’ and other vaguely defined individuals.”
Trump calls on Pulitzer board to “rectify the situation”
Trump said the PPB “must act accordingly,” saying the awards carry a “level of reverence” that implies the reporting being honored is “deemed credible, well-sourced and trustworthy.
“I would expect that you will take the necessary steps to rectify the situation, including stripping the recipients of their prize and retracting the false statements which remain on the Pulitzer website,” Trump said. “Without holding the recipients to such a high standard of accountability, the integrity of the Pulitzer Prize namesake stands to be wholly compromised.”
The former president and his allies have decried the Russian collusion investigation as a “witch hunt.”
In 2019, special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators found no evidence of Trump conspiring with Moscow.
Trump noted that the Pulitzer Board praised the newspapers for “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nations’ understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team, and his eventual administration.”