Trump reportedly spoke at the event amid growing tension over the intelligence community whistleblower complaint alleging he pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the Biden family. The complaint, which Trump has dubbed a "hoax," has led to a formal impeachment inquiry, announced Tuesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The Times reported that an attendee recorded Trump’s remarks, which focused on the whistleblower, and the recording was obtained by the paper.
“You know, these animals in the press… they’re animals, some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet,” Trump reportedly said. When someone in the room shouted "fake news," Trump responded: “They’re scum. Many of them are scum, and then you have some good reporters, but not many of them, I’ll be honest with you."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The event reportedly took place as Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, blasted the media during a hearing with the acting director of national intelligence that discussed the whistleblower complaint.
“This operation began with media reports -- from the prime instigators of the Russian collusion hoax -- that a whistleblower is claiming President Trump made a nefarious ‘promise’ to a foreign leader,” Nunes said. “The released transcript of the call has already debunked that central assertion, but that didn’t matter. The Democrats simply moved the goalposts and began claiming that there doesn’t need to be a quid pro quo for this conversation to serve as the basis for impeaching the president.”
Nunes added that the mainstream media used the same playbook to repeatedly push allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
“We’re supposed to forget about all those stories but believe this one,” he said.
Trump has attacked the mainstream media on a regular basis since entering the world of politics, often calling CNN “fake news” and referring to The New York Times as “failing.” He has also mocked NBC News, saying the organization is “worse” than the ratings-challenged CNN.