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Trump, Blumenthal exchange jabs on Twitter

WASHINGTON — Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal called out President Donald Trump for “bullying” after a Twitter attack from the president accused the senator of lying and being a “phony Vietnam con artist.”

Trump’s tweets were apparently prompted by Blumenthal’s appearance on CNN’s “New Day” Monday morning when he spoke to Brianna Keilar about several topics, including the Trump administration’s pursuit of leakssanctions on North Korea and Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

“Empaneling the grand jury shows that Bob Mueller is pursuing this potential wrongdoing by the Russians, the attack on our democracy, seriously and diligently — and there is no minimizing or underestimating that attack by the Russians,” Blumenthal said. “It was purposeful and relentless, and it involved propaganda and hacking into our voting machines or at least an attempt to do it and potential collusion by the Trump campaign and then obstruction of justice. That investigation must be pursued.”

Trump responded to Blumenthal’s comments on Russia in a tweetstorm just minutes later.

“Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist!”

“Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and….” he wrote in a second tweet.

He continued: “…conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?”

Blumenthal responded to Trump’s comments less than two hours later, directly addressing and chiding the president’s behavior in his own series of tweets.

“Mr. President: Your bullying hasn’t worked before and it won’t work now. No one is above the law.”

He continued: “This issue isn’t about me – it’s about the Special Counsel’s independence and integrity.”

Later in the day, Trump tweeted, “I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there.”

On the “Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” after Trump’s afternoon tweet, Blumenthal again said “it is not about me,” adding that he thinks people should focus on the fact that there is an ongoing special counsel investigation.

“I have no idea about what is in his mind,” Blumenthal said. “What I do know is I will not be distracted by this bullying.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has lashed out against Blumenthal, specifically regarding his military service. Trump made similar comments back in May after Blumenthal called the president’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey “a looming constitutional crisis.” Trump also tweeted about Blumenthal’s military service in February during the confirmation process for now-Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Trump’s digs are a reference to Blumenthal’s past misrepresentations about his service during the Vietnam era. The senator admitted in 2010 to misrepresenting his military service after saying he had been “in” Vietnam. Blumenthal served in the Marine reserves in Washington, D.C., not Vietnam, during the war.

“I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that, and I take full responsibility,” Blumenthal said in 2010.

While Blumenthal enlisted in the Marine Reserve after multiple deferments, Trump — who was also eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War — never enlisted, instead obtaining multiple student deferments and ultimately a medical deferment for a bone spur to avoid the military draft.