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Blankenship blames Trump in open letter: You spread 'fake news' against me

The ex-coal baron finished a distant third in Tuesday's GOP primary in West Virginia, but he hasn't let up on his blasts.
Image: Don Blankenship
Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship speaks to supporters in Charleston, West Virginia on May 8, 2018.Tyler Evert / AP

Failed West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship lashed out Wednesday in an unusual series of post-election statements lambasting both President Donald Trump for the role he played in the contest, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In an open letter, Blankenship — a Trump supporter himself — accused the president of spreading "fake news" against him when Trump tweeted that West Virginians should vote for either of Blankenship's opponents days before voters went to the polls.

"Your interference in the West Virginia election displayed a lack of understanding of the likely outcome of the upcoming general election," Blankenship's open letter to Trump read.

The former Massey Energy CEO charged that Trump was misled by "fake news and swampers' rhetoric," as was his son, Donald Jr., who also tweeted that voters should "reject Blankenship" on Election Day.

"I share most all of your policy views, but I refrain from taking positions based on fake news and swampers’ rhetoric. You, of all people, should also refrain from doing's not helpful to do to me what others are doing to you."

Blankenship drew parallels between himself and Trump in the letter, writing that both men are victims of attacks by the "fake news and the corrupt Obama-era Department of Justice," referring to the one-year prison sentence he received for his role in a deadly mine disaster.

Still, Blankenship wrote that he looks forward to meeting with the president "in the near future," calling his agenda "important to America" and wishing him luck in achieving it.

In an earlier statement sent to reporters Wednesday afternoon, the ex-coal baron decried a late-night tweet from McConnell's team that spoofed Blankenship's nickname for the Kentucky senator — "Cocaine Mitch" — with a riff on the Netflix show "Narcos."

The statement's post script called the tweet "just more proof that (McConnell) is not an America person." That was a reference to Blankenship's widely condemned comment during the campaign that McConnell's wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is a "China person."

Though Blankenship, who finished a distant third Tuesday night, introduced cocaine into the Senate race — he said his "Cocaine Mitch" claim was based on the fact that a large quantity of the drug had been found on a ship owned by Chao's father, a shipping magnate — his statement now took issue with it being used as a political punchline.

"Thousands die from cocaine use year after year, and he thinks it's funny that his family's shipping business hauls cocaine on the high seas. It is not funny," Blankenship said. "It is sickening."

Blankenship also slammed both Senate candidates — Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and GOP State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the victor Tuesday night — that voters have to choose between in November, saying "one will be under the thumb of (Senate Minority Leader Charles) Schumer and the other under the thumb of McConnell."

"My sincere apologies to those that understand the importance of putting America First," Blankenship's statement continued. "I failed them, yet I do not know what more I could have done. West Virginia people deserve better."

He warned, "If our country does not wake up soon, China will be the world's only superpower. America First needs to be more than a campaign slogan."

Blankenship's candidacy was controversial from the start. Republicans in DC feared that he would not have been able to win in a general election against Manchin due, in part, to his one-year prison term for his role in a mining disaster that killed 29 of his coal miners.