CNN thought they had published a bombshell.
They reported that President-elect Trump had been briefed on rumors that Russian agents had obtained compromising information on him.
But within hours, their story began to crumble.
CNN’s so-called bombshell report was in regards to a memo prepared by a former British Intelligence Officer.
The former Intelligence Officer had been hired by Trump’s opponents durging the Republican primary.
The work continued even after Trump clinched the nomination, but with the support of Democrats also.
However, the information in the dossier is nothing but lurid gossip.
It contains allegations that Trump officials met with Russian government agents and exchanged information during his campaign.
But there is one big problem.
All the allegations are unproven.
So far, not a shred of proof exists substantiating the fact that Russian Intelligence possesses any compromising information on Trump.
While the report states Trump, Obama, and the Gang of 8 – the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees – were briefed on the documents, it does not mean the Intelligence community also believes them to be true.
In fact, CNN’s own reporting states they could not verify the allegations included in the memo:
“CNN has reviewed a 35-page compilation of the memos, from which the two-page synopsis was drawn. The memos originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats. At this point, CNN is not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations. But, in preparing this story, CNN has spoken to multiple high-ranking intelligence, administration, congressional and law enforcement officials, as well as foreign officials and others in the private sector with direct knowledge of the memos.”
While CNN only reported on the memos, it was the anti-Trump website BuzzFeed who originally published the memos.
However, even BuzzFeed’s editor, Ben Smith, acknowledged the memos were riddled with errors and showed “serious reasons” to think they were false, but published them anyways – despite no media outlet possessing any evidence to substantiate them.
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 11, 2017
Journalists acknowledged these documents had been shopped for months during the campaign, but despite time and effort being put in to investigating their claims, no one could find any evidence to back up the assertions that Trump was compromised or his campaign team was in contact with Russia.
Politico’s Ken Vogel tweeted they had investigated the claims but could not corroborate the story.
Kenneth P. Vogel Retweeted Kenneth P. Vogel
To be clear: we couldn’t corroborate the story, which is why we didn’t publish anything. Not because this particular part seemed doubts.
Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen – the man identified in the dossier as meeting in Prague with Russian officials in August of 2016 – vigorously denied the charged.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 11, 2017
Evidence also emerged Cohen was actually in Los Angeles with his son visiting colleges when the documents supposedly placed him in Prague.
SCOOP: Two USC baseball sources confirm for me that @MichaelCohen212 + son visited campus on August 29th, time report places him in Prague.
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) January 11, 2017
Trump responded and blasted the entire report as “fake news”.
FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Another red flag with the report is, although it tries to dress the documents up as being an Intelligence assessment by identifying the source as a former British MI6 officer, and that Obama, Trump and Congressional leaders were briefed on the information by the Intelligence community, the memo is nothing more than political opposition research.
It was a partisan document prepared by sources with an axe to grind.
Some critics speculate this in an Intelligence community leak designed to get back at Trump for questioning their conclusion that the Russians were behind the hacking of Democrats during the election.
Others note the media is now throwing out all standards and ethics in their quest to destroy Trump’s Presidency.
There are also questions being raised about the leaks themselves.
Is the Intelligence community – or officials with knowledge of this briefing – declaring war on Trump and resorting to fake news to win their battle?
By publishing these claims, the media is essentially accusing Trump of treason and presenting no evidence to back up their case.
It’s a dangerous precedent that threatens to undermine the Trump Presidency.