Trump claimed that he had watched a television show "three weeks ago" in which Jones, a prominent advocate for criminal justice reform, had praised a long list of people, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, for the First Step Act reform bill Trump signed into law in 2018
-- but had failed to mention Trump himself.
"The only one he didn't mention was me," Trump said.
"I kept waiting for my name," Trump continued. "I said, 'Darling, come over here. I'm going to have a great little name mention. Yes, darling' -- First Lady. How good is the First Lady? So she came over. And I kept waiting. And I kept waiting. And then he named a lot of people -- that was the end. I said -- I was a little embarrassed in front of my wife. I said, 'He didn't name me! I'm the one that did it!' I called up Jared (Kushner), right Jared? I said, 'What the hell is this?' "
Trump complained that Jones had called for his defeat in the election on the same show. And he then claimed that Jones later apologized for omitting him.
"And then he spoke to Jared and he apologized, didn't he? He apologized. But I don't accept those apologies," Trump said.
Facts First: Jones said Friday that he has never made any such apology to Trump or Kushner. He has never praised Sharpton on his CNN show, and he has habitually given Trump credit for the First Step Act -- including in a CNN appearance three weeks ago , in which he said, "I think Trump has gotten too little credit for what he did on criminal justice reform."
Jones said Friday: "I literally do not know what he's talking about."
"I have not apologized for not mentioning Trump because I've never not mentioned Trump," he said. "Why would I apologize for not doing something that I did?"
Jones said he thinks Trump might have been confusing him with entertainer and activist John Legend.
The night the MSNBC show aired, Trump lashed out at Legend on Twitter while complaining that he and Republicans were not being given enough credit for the First Step Act. He mentioned Jones in the same Twitter thread, though Jones did not appear on the show.
"....A man named @VanJones68, and many others, were profusely grateful (at that time!). I SIGNED IT INTO LAW, no one else did, & Republicans deserve much credit. But now that it is passed, people that had virtually nothing to do with it are taking the praise. Guys like boring musician @johnlegend, and his filthy mouthed wife, are talking now about how great it is - but I didn't see them around when we needed help getting it passed," Trump said
Legend, winner of the Grammy, Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards, responded by tweeting
: "Imagine being president of a whole country and spending your Sunday night hate-watching MSNBC hoping somebody—ANYBODY—will praise you. Melania, please praise this man. He needs you."
Legend's wife Chrissy Teigen, the model, television host, author and popular online personality whom Trump disparaged as "filthy mouthed," responded with a profane insult that went viral on Twitter. She added
, "The absolute best part of his tweet is I literally didn't speak in the special, nor was I mentioned."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Conservative media outlets have taken note of Jones' repeated praise of Trump over the law, words for which Jones has received criticism from some liberals. In May, for example, the right-wing Daily Caller quoted Jones saying
, "We've got to give Trump credit where credit is due. He did fight hard to pass the bill and he made it possible for other Republicans to also be in the pro-criminal justice camp."
Sharpton for his support and guidance in a 2018 appearance he made on Sharpton's radio show to discuss the First Step Act. But that radio show bore no resemblance to the story Trump told about a recent television show.
Jones briefly mentioned
criminal justice reform on his CNN show in August, and called for Trump's defeat on that program, but the program also was not at all similar to the one Trump described; Jones did not mention Sharpton or recite a long list of people responsible for the First Step Act.