Trump didn't obtain CNN wrestling video from Reddit, White House says

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The video of Donald Trump wrestling a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his head - tweeted out by Trump over the weekend - did not come from the website Reddit, the White House said on Monday.

"The video was not pulled from Reddit," a White House official told ABC News. The official decline to respond to questions about where the president obtained the clip.

Trump tweeted the edited Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment video on Sunday morning. It was originally from a 2007 WWE match in which he appeared at the performance and body-slammed WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.

While the White House denies that Trump sourced the video from Reddit, a user on the site whose handle is a "Star Wars" character's name interjected with an expletive - Han-------Solo - has repeatedly claimed credit for it.

The GIF posted on Reddit is not exactly the same as what Trump tweeted: The video on Trump's Twitter account includes sound, and a "Fake News Network" logo at the end of the video.

The Reddit user posted on the discussion website that the video is recognizable from the way the "GIF matches the movements" and the "original logo" but that someone else "added sound to it." The user said on the site that he posted the video on a popular subreddit dubbed The_Donald, where Trump supporters converge, on June 28.

Brian Stelter, the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," tweeted CNN's response to Trump's tweet on Sunday, saying in part, "We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his." The response criticized Trump for involving himself in "juvenile behavior beneath the dignity of his office" rather than focusing on his "overseas trips, North Korea and the health care bill."

CNN's communications team hit back on Trump's Twitter thread directly, responding to the video with a quote from White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in which she defended his criticisms of "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

"The president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary," the team tweeted, adding that the quote was from Sanders on June 29.

Members of Congress were quick to slam Trump for his tweet on Sunday and stress the importance of press freedom.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., tweeted, "The First Amendment & freedom of the press are critical to our democracy. The latest attack from the WH undermines our values."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote, "Violence & violent imagery to bully the press must be rejected. This #July4th, celebrate freedom of the press, guardians to our democracy."

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., appeared on CNN on Sunday, warning that there is an important "distinction between bad stories and crappy coverage and trying to weaponize distrust."

There's an impt distinction between bad stories and crappy coverage & trying to weaponize distrust. - @BenSasse to @jaketapper @CNN

- Alice Stewart (@alicetweet) July 2, 2017

Meanwhile, some Republican members of Congress and White House officials focused on attacking the press.

John Shimkus, R-Ill., tweeted that headlines will always favor "scandal over substance and conflict over compromise" and added that plenty of "bipartisan work was being done." House Speaker Paul Ryan retweeted Shimkus' post on Monday.

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, who said Trump "had the right to fight back" amid last week's "Morning Joe" controversy, remained quiet about the CNN video but tweeted on Monday, "Yet, lately role of the media has been to retract false stories & fire liars. 'Truth' = patriotic vets died so you can talk nonsense."

Trump has for years had a hostile relationship with CNN, often calling the network "fake news" with "phony stories" and "garbage journalism."

He tweeted on July 1 that he was thinking of changing "Fake News CNN" to "Fraud News CNN."

ABC News' Alexander Mallin and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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