Donald Trump is taking some heat for using official presidential statements to promote his favorite Fox News shows.
On Friday, the president took a break from the busy G-20 Summit to take to Twitter, telling Americans to watch Sean Hannity’s show. As the organization Citizens for Ethics noted, the tweet is still considered an official presidential statement, making it improper for Trump to use it as a form of advertisement for his allies in right-wing media.
“Are the president’s official statements just ads now?” the organization posed on Twitter.
Trump has frequently used his Twitter page to promote Fox News programs, often pointing them out when the hosts are offering a defense of Trump amid the Russia investigation.
Trump was likely directing Americans to watch Hannity’s show to see the Fox News host defend Trump for the ever-tightening Russia investigation. This week, new charges were made that former campaign manager Paul Manafort lied to investigators, and Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying about Trump’s attempts to strike a development deal in Moscow. Cohen revealed that they were still trying to strike the deal long after Trump said his negotiations with Russia ended.
As Newsweek noted, Fox News has taken the lead in attacking Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and defending Trump. Though Trump had repeatedly said he had no business in Russia and was not seeking any deals there, Hannity claimed that Trump’s new admission that he was working on a deal with Russia throughout the 2016 campaign was not a big deal.
“No crime was committed, ever,” Hannity said. “By the way this deal, it never, ever, ever happened. The project never got off the ground. Even if it had happened, there’s no crime here. None whatsoever.”
Sean Hannity has been criticized for his close relationship with Donald Trump in the past. In the lead-up to the 2018 midterms, Trump appeared at a campaign rally after sitting down for an interview with Hannity. Though the Fox News host had said beforehand that he was there as a journalist and would not be participating in the rally, he ended up going back on that pledge and did appear on stage with Trump.
Hannity has also found himself embroiled in the investigation that swept up Michael Cohen. After Donald Trump’s former lawyer was arrested earlier this year, it was revealed that Hannity had been a secret client of Cohen as well, leading to allegations that he failed to disclose the conflict of interest while reporting on the president.