Vacationing Trump Lashes Out on Twitter Over Russia Probe

WASHINGTON (CN) – Veering off his traditional grousing about the media, President Donald Trump marked the start of a 17-day vacation Monday with a Twitter attack on Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

“Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist,” the president tweeted.

“Never in U.S. history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal,” he said in the stream of tweets. “He told stories about his Vietnam battles and conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?”

Blumenthal himself is no stranger to social media, having tweeted out a series of messages critical of the Trump administration after news broke Friday of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s impaneling of a grand jury.

“With broad mandate Special Counsel must pursue all financial dealings – past and present – involving Russians and Trump campaign,” Blumenthal wrote on Aug. 5. 

Another tweet by the senator said: “Russian financial payouts straight out of their playbook sabotaging democracies. Mueller must follow the money.”

Blumenthal’s focus on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has been constant since May when the president fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

Trump’s counterpoint about Blumenthal’s military record meanwhile stems from a New York Times report seven years ago that undercut claims the then-attorney general made about his service during the Vietnam War. Counting at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970, the Times called out the manner in which Blumenthal spoke about Vietnam as “misleading.”

Though Blumenthal conceded in 2010 that he might have misspoken about his service, he was confronted with the controversy again this past May when he first raised questions about Comey’s firing.  

“Watching Senator Richard Blumenthal speak of Comey is a joke,” Trump tweeted on May 10, a day after firing Comey.

“‘Richie’ devised one of the greatest military frauds in U.S. history,” the May Twitter-storm continued. “For years, as a pol in Connecticut, Blumenthal would talk of his great bravery and conquests in Vietnam – except he was never there. When caught, he cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness and now he is judge & jury. He should be the one who is investigated for his acts.”

Despite his reputation as a robust athlete — proficient at football, tennis, squash and golf — Trump obtained five medical deferments to avoid serving in the Vietnam War.

The first of these, in 1968, said the 6-foot-2 Trump had bone spurs in his heels.

Trump told The New York Times in August 2016  that the bone spurs he suffered from at age 22 were only “temporary,” and a “minor” ailment.

“I had a doctor give me a letter – a very strong letter on the heels,” Trump said.

Trump’s tweets on Monday began just after 6:30 a.m. with a rallying cry about the size of his voter base.

“The Trump base is far bigger and stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling),” the president wrote, over a series of three tweets. “Look at rallies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia. The fact is that Fake News Russian collusion story, record stock market, border security, military strength jobs, Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation &so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together. Will never change!”

Replying to his own comment, he added only a moment later, “Hard to believe with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES, WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!”

According to a Gallup poll, the president’s approval rating dipped to its lowest point during the week of July 17 to July 23. Polls indicated his approval rating hovered at 37 percent that week, a 3 percent drop since his inauguration in January.

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