Trump Rips Media Over Veterans Donations

Trump Rips Media Over Veterans Donations
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NEW YORK -- Facing increasing scrutiny over money he raised for veterans groups, Donald Trump released some details about the donations Tuesday while lashing out at the media for their attempts to verfiy his largesse claims.

“The press should be ashamed of themselves,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said at Trump Tower press conference, which all of the major news channels carried live. “I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.”

Trump said he had raised $5.6 million for veterans groups, including his personal contribution of $1 million. He released a list of the distributions on his website and waved a copy of the check he wrote during the press conference. The real estate mogul said he was delayed in releasing the names of recipient groups and the exact amount of money raised because his campaign was vetting the organizations. He also said he wanted to keep the details private because “I don’t think it’s anybody’s business if I want to send money to the vets.”

Trump said most of the money was distributed earlier this year but that some allocations were made more recently. Last week, after questions were raised first by the Washington Post about whether Trump followed through on the personal contribution he had pledged to make, the GOP standard-bearer announced he personally donated $1 million.

The questions stem from a veterans fundraiser Trump help on Jan. 28  instead of attending a Fox News debate, which he boycotted over a feud with its moderators. That evening, Trump said he raised $6 million for veterans groups. But months after the event, it was still unclear exactly how much money was raised and to whom and when it was distributed. Trump responded that some of the pledged money had not been received.

He was visibly frustrated Tuesday with the press scrutiny and asserted that he didn’t want to broadcast the fundraising details after the event last winter.

“I wasn’t looking for the credit,” he said, arguing that he could have held the press conference with the recipients. “But I had no choice because the press was saying I didn’t raise it.”

When pressed about the scrutiny involved when running for president, Trump said he “shouldn’t be lambasted.” And he called an ABC News reporter “a sleaze” when asked about critics claiming that he exaggerates.

“I think the political press is among the most dishonest people I ever met,” he said. Later, he repeated this criticism: “I find the press to be extremely dishonest. And I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest.”

The media were often criticized this cycle by Trump’s GOP opponents for the extensive coverage provided the front-runner, including broadcasting his events live and allowing him to phone in to on-air interviews. On the Democratic side, likely nominee Hillary Clinton has been criticized for not holding press conferences and rarely taking reporters’ questions on the campaign trail.

The Clinton campaign spent Tuesday ripping Trump over his contributions and past statements about veterans, though this was done through a press call, surrogates, and statements that were issued. Protesters gathered outside Trump Tower as the GOP nominee spoke to the press.

Trump used the event to criticize his likely general election opponent, questioning what she has done for veterans. But she wasn’t his only target. He called the judge overseeing a lawsuit over Trump University “very unfair” and pushed back when asked about his criticism last week of fellow Republican Susana Martinez of New Mexico, a move seen as an unwise slight to the Latina governor. Trump’s remarks sent a signal to other Republicans reluctant to support him.

“If I have a person that's not going to support me, I have no obligation,” Trump said on Tuesday, adding that Martinez “wasn’t nice” to him. “If somebody is going to say something a little bit negative or a lot negative about me, and if they happen to be a Republican, I may choose to hit them back. Not always, but I may choose to hit them back."
He continued: “You think I'm going to change? I'm not changing.”

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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