Pulitzer’s board of directors rejected that claim on Monday after undertaking the journalistic equivalent of a state election recount. In an unusual move, he allowed two independent reviews of articles submitted by newspapers – and essentially recertified the results.
“The separate reviews have converged in their conclusions: that no passage or title, assertion or claim in any of the winning submissions has been discredited by facts that have arisen after the awarding of the prizes,” he said in a communicated.
Trump has long chafed at any suggestion that his surprise election victory in 2016 was aided by the Russian government, or that his campaign acted in concert with Russian operatives seeking to be elected against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He repeatedly called the investigative efforts — including by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III — a “witch hunt” and the focus on it as “Russia, Russia, Russia “.
Teams of reporters from the Post and Times produced substantial evidence of links in the 10 award-winning articles each submitted for Pulitzer’s scrutiny.
The Post, for example, first reported on Justice Department concerns that Trump’s new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, lied to Vice President-elect Mike Pence about details of his communications with the government. Russian ambassador, making him potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The Times, meanwhile, reported that Donald Trump Jr. had agreed to meet with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer he believed would offer compromising information about Hillary Clinton and that the material was part of a Russian government effort to help her father’s candidacy. .
Former Washington Post editor Martin Baron, who oversaw the Post’s reporting in 2017, said Monday that Pulitzer’s board made “the right decision and the only logic.” Anyone who researched this Pulitzer submission knew these stories held true, were correct, accurate, and well reported. There was no reason for a reversal.
The Times had no comment.
In a letter to the Pulitzer board last fallTrump pointed to the indictment of a lawyer who worked on Clinton’s campaign by Special Counsel John Durham as evidence for removing the Times and Post awards.
Durham alleged that attorney Michael Sussmann lied to the FBI when he spoke to the agency in September 2016 about a possible connection between the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank, a Russian financial institution linked to the Kremlin. Trump said Sussmann’s indictment “served as a damning repudiation of the media’s obsession with the collusion story.”
Sussmann was acquitted of a single count of lying to the FBI in May.
The former president also complained about unnamed sources featured in the Times and Post articles, specifically pointing to articles that gave credit to “people with knowledge”, “current and former public servants” and other others he described as “loosely defined individuals”.
Trump noted that Pulitzer’s board praised the newspapers for “relentless, thorough and reported coverage in the public interest that has significantly improved nations’ understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and his ties to the Trump campaign, the transition of the president-elect team, and his eventual administration.
He wrote to the board in protest: “I expect you to take the necessary steps to rectify the situation, including stripping recipients of their awards and retracting the remaining misrepresentations on the website of Pulitzer. Without holding recipients to such a high level of accountability, the integrity of the Pulitzer Prize namesake risks being entirely compromised.
In a brief interview, Pulitzer administrator Marjorie Miller declined to discuss details of the committee’s review, including who was involved in reviewing the papers.
One of Trump’s lawyers, Alina Habba, wrote to the Pulitzer’s acting administrator in November demanding that the board preserve the “evidence” involved in the 2018 award – language that often precedes a trial. So far, however, Trump has not pursued the award decision.