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Trump campaign sends memo to television producers warning about 'credibility' of six Trump critics who it says spread false claims about collusion

Key Points
  • Trump's re-election campaign sends a memo to television producers on Monday instructing them to "employ basic journalistic standards when booking" six current or former government officials that the campaign said "made outlandish, false claims, without evidence" while on air.
  • The memo targets four Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, as well as Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and former CIA Director John Brennan.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019.
William B. Plowman | NBCUniversal

Trump's re-election campaign sent a memo to television producers on Monday instructing them to "employ basic journalistic standards when booking" six current or former government officials that the campaign said "made outlandish, false claims, without evidence" while on air.

The memo names:

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the chair of the House Judiciary Committee
  • Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez
  • John Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency
  • Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chair of the House Intelligence Committee
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., who has floated a potential bid for president

Read the full document: Trump campaign memo to television producers

In a statement, Swalwell said that the "only person who has been caught lying about Russia is Donald Trump."

"If he thinks I've made a false statement, he can sue me. And I'll beat him in court," Swalwell said.

A spokesman for Blumenthal dismissed the Trump campaign's memo. "Senator Blumenthal has never claimed that Special Counsel Mueller could clear the incredibly high bar to bring charges of criminal conspiracy in this case," the spokesman said. "But there is obvious, significant evidence of Trump campaign collusion already in the public realm."

The others targeted in the memo either declined to comment or did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

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The Trump campaign letter comes a day after Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers that special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The two-page letter, which was distributed to producers for all the networks and cable outlets, cited comments that the guests made on air alleging that there was evidence of collusion.

"Moving forward, we ask that you employ basic journalistic standards when booking such guests to appear anywhere in your universe of productions," wrote Tim Murtaugh, the campaign's director of communications, in the memo. The campaign wrote that the producers should "begin by asking" the following question:

Does this guest warrant further appearances in our programming, given the outrageous and unsupported claims made in the past?

"At a minimum, if these guests do reappear, you should replay the prior statements and challenge them to provide the evidence which promoted them to make wild claims in the first place," Murtaugh wrote.

Trump and those around him have faced scrutiny for their own comments made on air. Shortly after Trump took office, top advisor Kellyanne Conway defended statements made by then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer by saying during an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd that Spicer used "alternative facts."

In August, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Todd that "truth isn't truth" in a segment concerning whether the president should sit for an interview with Mueller. Giuliani later clarified that his statement "was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements."

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of MSNBC, CNBC and NBC.