There is no love lost between CNN and President Donald Trump, who earlier this week said he wanted to sue the news outlet.
Trump made the admission Wednesday at his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., according to The Intercept, during a private fundraiser for his re-election campaign. Media were not permitted to attend the gala, which cost $35,000 per plate.
The president asked attendees if he should sue CNN, whose reporters and commentators he described as “horrible human beings.” The audience laughed and applauded the jab at the news network, which just a few days ago retracted a story that linked Trump associate Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment bank.
CNN said in a statement that the article didn’t meet its editorial standards and three journalists resigned as a result.
“Boy, did CNN get killed over the last few days,” Trump said in a leaked audio recording of the event. “It’s a shame what they’ve done to the name CNN — that I can tell you.
“But as far as I’m concerned, I love it,” he continued. “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?”
Trump focused his criticism on liberal CNN commentator Van Jones, who was recently captured on a secretly recorded video appearing to say the never-ending story of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin is a “nothingburger.”
“Van Jones — you see this man?” Trump asked. “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.”
For his part, Jones claimed Thursday in a CNN op-ed that the video of him, which was recorded by the right-leaning Project Veritas, is a hoax.
“Serious question: Is anyone out there still gullible enough to fall for an edited, right-wing propaganda video — in 2017?” he wrote.
All of this came as Trump’s relationship with the press corps has continued to deteriorate. The White House has faced scrutiny recently for decreasing the number of on-camera press briefings.
On Friday, Trump told reporters, “You guys are getting worse,” after some members of the media who were moving hurriedly into the Oval Office appeared to hit a table, toppling a lamp. The commotion occurred during a joint appearance with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“They knocked the table down,” the president told Moon. “It’s actually a very friendly press, don't let that get you. Although we just lost the table.”
The table — and the lamp — appeared to be in fine condition after a member of Trump’s Secret Service detail adjusted the furniture.