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Trump, in a Mother’s Day tweetstorm, says NBC’s Chuck Todd should be fired over edited interview clip

NBC's 'Meet the Press' aired an edited clip of Attorney General William P. Barr on May 10. President Trump on Twitter called the segment "Fake News." (Video: The Washington Post)

President Trump spent much of his Sunday holiday sharing more than 100 tweets and retweets, bouncing between wishing everyone a “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” and railing against targets including former president Barack Obama, “60 Minutes” and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

But perhaps no one received as much ire from the president and his supporters on Mother’s Day than “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. In a late-night tweet Sunday, Trump said Todd should be fired by NBC News for using an abbreviated quote from Attorney General William P. Barr to criticize the Justice Department’s decision to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

On May 7, Attorney General William P. Barr defended dropping criminal charges against President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn. (Video: Reuters)

The show acknowledged the “error” and said the tail end of Barr’s quote, which was edited out of the clip shown on “Meet the Press,” included important context.

Justice Dept. moves to drop case against Michael Flynn

The disparity between Barr’s full comment and the clip presented on “Meet the Press” spurred conservative media and politicians to denounce the show on Sunday. Before the day was out, Trump joined the fray.

“Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd should be FIRED by “Concast” (NBC) for this fraud,” the president tweeted late Sunday night, using a nickname he’s used repeatedly when referring to Todd. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”

Trump frequently blasts reporters over critical coverage and tough questions. In his tweet calling for Todd’s termination, the president tagged the Federal Communications Commission and its chairman, Ajit Pai.

Trump’s sentiments followed the Justice Department contesting the way in which “Meet the Press” presented a quote from Barr regarding Flynn in a Thursday interview with CBS News.

“Not only did the AG make the case in the VERY answer Chuck says he didn’t, he also did so multiple times throughout the interview,” Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for Barr, tweeted on Sunday.

Kupec was referring to the shortened clip of Barr’s response to a question about how history would reflect upon the Justice Department’s handling of the perjury case against Flynn.

“Well, history is written by the winners. So, it largely depends on who’s writing the history,” Barr said.

That’s where “Meet the Press” cut the clip, and Todd reacted by characterizing the answer as cynical and claiming that Barr “didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law.”

“He was almost admitting that, yeah, this is a political job,” Todd added.

But in the full CBS clip, Barr did argue that the Justice Department was upholding the rule of law. After saying the answer would depend on who was writing the history, Barr continued: “But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.”

In response to an inquiry from The Washington Post, an NBC spokesman pointed to a tweet replying to Kupec’s criticism.

“You’re correct,” the show tweeted in its reply. “Earlier today, we inadvertently and inaccurately cut short a video clip of an interview with AG Barr before offering commentary and analysis. The remaining clip included important remarks from the attorney general that we missed, and we regret the error.”

Todd has not responded to either Trump or the general criticism of the show’s characterization of Barr’s comments.

The news show and its host were just one target in Trump’s busy day of aggressive tweets defending the decision to drop the Flynn case and his administration’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. He also targeted Obama, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and former FBI director James B. Comey. The president’s tweets came amid news that the pandemic is projected to cause unemployment to jump to 20 percent by June.

The Justice Department’s decision to drop the Flynn case has been criticized widely by many of those people. In a leaked phone call, Obama told his former aides “our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk” because of the Justice Department’s reversal, The Washington Post reported Saturday. Comey tweeted last week the department “has lost its way,” while McCabe denounced conservative media for becoming “obsessed with finding some indication of a setup.”

And on Sunday, Mary B. McCord, the former acting assistant attorney general for national security, published an op-ed in the New York Times in which she said current Justice Department officials “twisted my words in dropping the Flynn case” and rebutted the claims made in the filing to dismiss the case.

“In short, the report of my interview does not anywhere suggest that the F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn was unconstitutional, unlawful or not “tethered” to any legitimate counterintelligence purpose,” she wrote.