Frustrated with a set of damning reports about his relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—including the nugget that Tillerson called him a “moron” (perhaps with an R-rated modifier)—the president offered a new suggestion on Twitter Thursday morning: Why not explore government censorship of the press?
Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2017
Trump had been relatively quiet on Twitter for a few days, following the massacre in Las Vegas and his trip to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, but the Tillerson stories on Wednesday set off a new tirade of tweets against the press. Most of them are the standard “Fake news!” variety—never mind that there have been stories of Trump-Tillerson tension for months, and that multiple outlets have confirmed the “moron” anecdote—but the president is calling for something different here. He is suggesting that the Senate bring its investigative powers to bear on news reports that are, from all indications save Tillerson’s non-denial denial, entirely accurate.
The idea of an Intelligence Committee investigation seems to spring from an already-existing inquiry by the committee into Russian interference in the election, which has in recent weeks focused intensely on the role of Facebook as a medium for divisive advertisements and events designed to influence American politics, allegedly placed by Russian actors. Trump has said that this investigation, like others into Russian interference in the 2016 election, is an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of his victory.