By Philip Rucker
President Trump defended his son Donald Trump Jr., contrasting his Russia meeting with Hillary Clinton's deleted emails and accused the news media of "DISTORTING DEMOCRACY" in a series of angry statements issued early Sunday.
Tweeting from his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is spending the weekend, Trump lashed out at the media for coverage of the disclosure that his oldest son and namesake held a meeting last year with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who offered damaging information about Clinton, his campaign opponent.
Trump tweeted, "HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?"
Trump was referring to emails Clinton deleted from her private server as secretary of state, as well as to her campaign being provided an early look at a question in a primary debate against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The debate controversy surfaced only because of an illegal hack of Democratic emails, which US intelligence agencies have concluded was orchestrated by Russia, and their subsequent release on Wikileaks.
In another tweet Sunday morning, Trump accused the news media of "phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting." He said the "#Fake News," the president's term for news outlets whose aggressive reporting he does not like, is "DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!"
Trump also thanked a former campaign adviser, Michael Caputo, for his testimony Friday before the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Caputo told reporters that he testified in a closed session for nearly four hours and told House investigators, "I had no contact with Russians and I never heard of anyone in the Trump campaign talking with Russians."
Trump tweeted, "Thank you to former campaign adviser Michael Caputo for saying so powerfully that there was no Russian collusion in our winning campaign."
Caputo worked on the Trump campaign as a communications adviser throughout the Republican primary season but left the team in summer 2016 as the general election got underway. He has long ties to Russia, having lived in the country in the 1990s and working in 2000 as a contractor with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to improve Putin's image in the United States.
Trump has been staying in Bedminster at his Trump National Golf Club since returning from Paris on Friday evening.
The president has been watching the US Women's Open, tweeting five times over the weekend about his attendance at the golf tournament. He spent much of Saturday in an enclosed viewing area, watching the golfers on television and entertaining spectators by flashing a thumbs up or posing for photos.
On Sunday morning, Trump boasted that his supporters "far out-numbered the protesters" at the golf club: