Newly released declassified memos written by former FBI Director James Comey reveal that he warned President Donald Trump that CNN was “looking for a news hook” to report on the so-called Trump dossier.
Comey himself, however, ended up giving CNN the news hook it needed to report on the salacious claims.
Just three days after the meeting, CNN published the story “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him,” featuring in part the fact that Comey had briefed the president-elect on the so-called Trump dossier.
The Trump dossier had been spread and circulated for months among politicians and media organizations but was deemed not credible enough to report on directly.
“It was inflammatory stuff that they would get killed for reporting straight up from the source reports,” Comey wrote in one of his memos.
However, the high-profile briefing provided the legitimacy CNN needed to report on the Trump dossier. This resulted in hundreds of other media reports around the world, including Buzzfeed, publishing the dossier in full.
“CNN has learned that the nation’s top intelligence officials provided information to President-elect Donald Trump and to President Barack Obama last week,” CNN host Jake Tapper said in talking about the dossier.
It was later revealed that the Trump dossier was, in fact, an opposition research file paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Comey himself described the dossier as “salacious and unverified” in testimony before the House Intelligence committee under oath in June 2017.
Comey’s meeting with Trump and CNN’s subsequent reporting is just one of the examples on how unverified information became widespread in the media in an effort to discredit Trump.
Court documents in the UK revealed that Fusion GPS, the company hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to produce the Trump Dossier, had instructed one of the dossier’s main authors, former British Spy Christopher Steele, to provide secret briefings to media organizations on the claims.
Among the reporters who received these briefings during the election were those of The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The New Yorker, and Yahoo News.
But it didn’t stop at just briefings.
In the course of its investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the House Committee on Intelligence discovered that Fusion GPS had made payments to a number of journalists.
The reporters involved had been active in reporting on Russia-related matters.
In January this year, a federal judge ruled that Fusion GPS needed to hand over all its bank records to the House committee, which include details on the payments to journalists.
The House committee also found that President Barack Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, had provided an inconsistent testimony on his contacts with media organizations.
“Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, now a CNN national security analyst, provided inconsistent testimony to the Committee about his contacts with the media, including CNN,” The House Intelligence committee wrote in a report published last month.
Clapper was given a job by CNN in August 2017.