Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday that he has “no idea” why President Donald Trump appears to tweet with particular venom in his direction, and that the withering online criticism has only spurred him to remain focused on protecting the integrity of the ongoing Russia investigations.
“It’s really not about me. And I have no idea what is in the president’s head,” Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “But I can tell you I’m determined not to be distracted. I think they are designed to distract, these bullying tweets.”
Trump lashed out at Blumenthal Monday in a series of posts to Twitter, labeling the lawmaker a “phony Vietnam con artist” over his past misstatements about his military record. The president’s attacks date back to Blumenthal’s 2010 election, when the former Marine Corps reservist held a press conference to explain that while he had previously stated that he served “in” the Vietnam War, he had in truth served during the war but had not been deployed overseas.
“Never in U.S. history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie,” said Trump, who received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War. “He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?”
Trump’s initial tweets about Blumenthal followed minutes after the senator appeared on CNN’s “New Day,” where he discussed special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in last year’s presidential election and allegations that individuals associated with Trump’s campaign aided those efforts.
Later Monday, Trump again attacked Blumenthal, writing that “I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there.”
Blumenthal said his efforts will remain focused on protecting Mueller’s investigation from White House interference. He said he expects legislation to protect Mueller from being fired by Trump without cause to have bipartisan support when Congress returns from recess next month.
“There is an ongoing special counsel investigation. It is real. It is based on facts. That’s where the issue is. That’s where the focus ought to be. Our national security and the rule of law are at serious risk. So it is not about me. I cannot explain the president’s obsession with me or any of the other targets of his tweets,” Blumenthal said, adding that the president’s social media posts “only reinforce my determination to protect the special counsel, because he has used the same tactics in seeking to bully and intimidate the special counsel Bob Mueller.”