A story by Haberman and two other Times reporters on Friday examined the likelihood that the president’s attorney Michael Cohen will turn on his boss now that he is being investigated. It quoted two biographers, Nunberg and Trump’s long-time controversial informal adviser Roger Stone. (Stone was quoted as saying that Trump “goes out of his way” to treat Cohen “like garbage.” Nunberg said Cohen has “leverage” on Trump and should “maximize” it now.)
Trump, infuriated by the story, slammed “third-rate- flunkie” Haberman in vicious tweets Saturday morning, and added the scathing “drugged up” insult about one of the sources, whom he didn’t name.
It had to be Nunberg, Haberman tweeted, because the president is too afraid of bombastic, rule-breaking Stone to “be that direct.”
Haberman slammed Trump’s use of “drugged up” as showing little compassion for those struggling with drug problems, such as victims of the opioid crisis. She then named Nunberg as the target of Trump’s vicious dig.
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York who was fired by Trump, responded to Haberman’s tweet, asking: “Donald Trump is afraid of Roger Stone?”
Haberman answered: “For years.”
Haberman also added a bit of new information from her reporting, revealing that one source told her that Trump is “abusive to everyone.”
The Times followed up with a story Saturday acknowledging Trump’s criticism of the article, including his tweet that the newspaper was “going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip.’” The president also accused the Times of using “nonexistent sources.”
Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement that “the story is filled with named quotes on the record, and everything Maggie has reported from inside the White House has proven true.”
Nunberg was subpoenaed last month to appear before a federal grand jury investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. He initially vowed to defy the subpoena and appeared on a series of news shows sounding dangerously defiant. At one point, CNN’s Erin Burnett told him she smelled alcohol on his breath. Nunberg denied that he had been drinking, but added that he had taken anti-depressants that day.
Nunberg said the following day that he planned to comply with the order and would appear before the grand jury by the end of the week.
Roger Stone is being investigated for possible ties to Russia hackers and talks with Wikileaks during the presidential campaign. On Friday he called the late Barbara Bush a “vindictive drunk,” and was promptly disinvited from speaking at an upcoming Florida GOP event.