Trump declares New York Times 'enemy of the people'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE on Wednesday labeled The New York Times "a true enemy of the people" one day after an extensive report detailing the ways in which he has sought to influence the investigations into his presidency and allies.

"The New York Times reporting is false," Trump tweeted. "They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!"

The president's tweet did not refute any specific reporting from the Times, but marked yet another escalation in his sustained attacks on his hometown paper and the media as a whole.

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New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger issued a statement hours later condemning the president's use of the term "enemy of the people" as "dangerous" and inaccurate.

"It is particularly reckless coming from someone whose office gives him broad powers to fight or imprison the nation’s enemies," Sulzberger said. "As I have repeatedly told President Trump face to face, there are mounting signs that this incendiary rhetoric is encouraging threats and violence against journalists at home and abroad."

Sulzberger, who has met with Trump on at least two separate occasions in the past year, noted that past presidents have complained about coverage of their administration, but "fiercely defended" the free press.

Trump's latest diatribe against the Times came after the newspaper reported Tuesday that Trump asked then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker late last year to put U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in charge of the investigation in New York's Southern District into Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen.

Berman, an ally of Trump who donated to his 2016 campaign, had been recused from the investigation, and Whitaker did not act on Trump's request.

Trump denied that he requested Berman be put in charge of the investigation when asked about it Tuesday afternoon.

“I don’t know who gave you that,” Trump said, calling the report "fake news."

A Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement that the White House has not asked Whitaker to interfere in investigations, pointing to his congressional testimony from earlier this month indicating as much.

Trump has a well-documented track record of attacking the press, and the Times in particular. He has called negative coverage of him and his administration "fake news" and referred to reporters and news outlets as the "enemy of the people."

The president has applied both terms to his hometown newspaper, but has at times praised the publication.

"What’s more important than The New York Times? OK, nothing. Nothing," Trump said during an Oval Office interview late last month with Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker.

During that same sit-down, Sulzberger raised concerns about the president's use of anti-press rhetoric, including the term "enemy of the people." Sulzberger cautioned Trump that his comments had given license to global leaders to crack down on the media.

Trump acknowledged Sulzberger's comments and responded by complaining at length about the coverage his administration has received.

"What you do is a very important thing," Trump said. "And I will tell you, I would love if I was just covered fairly."

The president's latest criticism of the Times was part of  a series of invectives directed at the press Wednesday morning.

In another tweet, he claimed that writers "don't even call asking for verification."

Haberman, who co-authored Tuesday's report, said on CNN upon hearing about Trump's tweet that it was a "lie" that The Times had not reached out in advance of the story being published.

“That’s not true, that’s a lie,” Haberman said. “I don’t know if he knows it’s a lie or whether he is telling himself this is true, whether his staff doesn’t tell him we are reaching out. I find it hard to believe that his staff didn’t reach him that this kind of a report was coming.”  

The president on Wednesday morning also cheered a lawsuit against another of his favorite targets for criticism, The Washington Post.

Nick Sandmann, a Catholic high school student from Covington, Ky., who was at the center of a viral encounter with a Native American elder earlier this year, is suing the company for $250 million over its reporting on the interaction.

The lawsuit alleges that the Post published "a series of false and defamatory print and online articles" and alleged that it did so "because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ souvenir cap."

"Go get them Nick," Trump tweeted. "Fake News!"

This developing report was last updated at 1:00 p.m.