Blumenthal calls Trump’s new Vietnam tweets about him ‘slurs’

Kyle Constable / CTMirror.org

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal responds to President Trump’s tweets Monday morning.

Updated at 5:57 p.m. with an additional tweet from President Trump.

President Donald J. Trump took to Twitter Monday morning – and again in the afternoon – to renew his attacks on U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., bringing up the senator’s misstatements about service in Vietnam for the third time.

The series of tweets – which mimicked a similar thread he sent out in May – comes as Blumenthal announces he will join a bipartisan group of lawmakers introducing legislation to limit the White House’s ability to fire former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 elections.

In a CNN interview Monday morning, Blumenthal offered strong support for Mueller’s investigation and raised concerns about Attorney General Jeff Sessions recent announcement that the Department of Justice would begin cracking down on leaks.

“Government officials who break the law by disclosing classified information, endangering national security and violating criminal oath certainly should be pursued and prosecuted,” Blumenthal said on CNN. “But I’m concerned the Department of Justice is weaponizing laws for political and personal ends, and specifically for White House’s purposes.”

Shortly afterward, Trump sent out the first three tweets – though, unlike last time, Trump didn’t refer to Blumenthal as “Richie.” Instead, he called him a “phony Vietnam con artist.”

Trump’s tweets refer to the half-dozen documented occasions where Blumenthal falsely referred to service in Vietnam. In those instances, he had been commenting on how veterans like himself were treated upon their return to the United States.

He never, however, talked of “his Vietnam battles and conquests” or “how brave he was.”

The issue first emerged during his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign when video of him referring to being in Vietnam at a public event began circulating after it was obtained by Linda McMahon’s campaign. McMahon was his Republican opponent. The story was first reported by the New York Times.

In Blumenthal’s official biography, he correctly described himself as a stateside Marine reservist during the war.

Blumenthal responded in much the same way he did three months ago.

“I am not going to be distracted or bullied by these slurs,” Blumenthal told reporters at a press conference in Hartford.

Later Monday afternoon, Trump added a fourth tweet – once again challenging Blumenthal’s honesty.

Blumenthal did not respond to the new tweet directly, but he has pinned the first tweet he sent out in response – which says the president’s tweets amount to “bullying” – to the top of his Twitter profile.

The legislation Blumenthal is backing – which was sponsored by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. – would prevent the attorney general from firing Mueller without “good cause.” It also would require a three-judge panel to evaluate if the rationale for the firing represented “good cause.” The panel could prevent the firing if it were determined not to be the case.

A similar bill has been introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. Blumenthal said he expects strong bipartisan support for the final version of the legislation.

Trump wrote similar tweets about Blumenthal in February during the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. After a private meeting between Blumenthal and Gorsuch, Blumenthal said Gorsuch had expressed disappointment with Trump’s attacks on the court system. Trump said Blumenthal “misrepresented” Gorsuch’s statements.

Gorsuch later confirmed his remarks during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his nomination to the Supreme Court.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, tweeted in Blumenthal’s defense Monday afternoon, calling the president’s tweets false and petty.

Capitol Bureau Chief Mark Pazniokas contributed to this report.

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