Politics

Hillary Campaign Manager Repeats Debunked Russia Claim

Mook says all 17 intel agencies pinned election meddling on Kremlin after NYT, AP retractions

Robby Mook, who served as Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign manager, repeated Thursday one of the most widely cited but discredited claims of the year — that “all 17” U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia meddled in the campaign.

The New York Times and Associated Press last week both issued statements correcting several prior stories in which they reported on the unanimity of the intelligence assessment that Russia tried to help President Donald Trump win the election.

Mook evidently didn’t get the memo.

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“All all 17 intelligence agencies said this happened,” he said Thursday on CNN. “It definitely happened.”

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin did not challenge Mook. Then again, it was not even the only time that day that someone made this misleading claim on the cable outlet. On “The Lead,” later on Thursday, political commentator Ana Navarro made the same claim but cited one fewer agency.

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Again, no dispute from the host, this time Pamela Brown, who was filling in for vacationing Jake Tapper.

Earlier Thursday, CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta challenged Trump’s claim during a news conference in Poland that “three or four” intelligence agencies had made the conclusion.

Speaking with hosts Chris Cuomo and Poppy Harlow, Acosta called it “fake news” coming from the president.

“Where does that number come from? Where does this three or four number come from?” he asked. “My suspicion, Chris and Poppy, is that if we go to the administration, and ask them for this question, I’m not sure we’re going to get an answer, and if we do, it will be off camera.”

In its June 30 correction, AP acknowledged that stories it published the day before and on April 6, June 2, and June 26 were wrong.

“That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies — the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency — and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies,” the correction stated. “Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.”

The New York Times on June 29 issued a similar correction, only it attributed the statement to four intelligence agencies, including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as the fourth.

“The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

“The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community,” The Times stated.

So Trump’s claim that the assessment came from “three or four” agencies was dead on.

CNN justice correspondent Evan Pérez accused Trump supporters of using Acosta’s inaccurate reporting to downplay the intelligence assessment itself.

“People making hay over 17 v 4 intell agencies apparently think the DEA, Energy Dept and Coast Guard intell units had a role in Russia probe,” he tweeted.

He followed with another tweet: “By this logic: DNI, FBI, CIA & NSA aren’t enough. Let’s get DEA’s take on Russia meddling. Then Coast Guard. & Energy. Cc @MCShort45.”

But it was Acosta, and CNN guests, who raised the issue in the first place by repeating the 17-agency claim. The assertion that all 17 intelligence agencies were united lends heft to the overall conclusion. If that is not the case, why continue to inflate the number?

In truth, the fact that not all 17 agencies signed off on the assessment has been known since long before last week. James Clapper, who served as President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, confirmed it in May when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He told senators that the Russia assessment was a “coordinated product from three agencies, CIA, NSA, and the FBI, not all 17 components of the intelligence community.”

Clapper said in the same testimony that about two dozen “hand-picked” analysts prepared the report.

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Fred Fleitz, vice president of policy and programs at the Center for Security Policy, told Fox News this week that he believes the assessment was “rigged” to produce a negative outcome for Trump.

“All intelligence agencies are supposed to weigh in,” he said. “Only three agencies did … That’s extraordinary. At the CIA, there are hundreds of experts who should have had a hand in this.”

Fleitz also noted that former FBI Director James Comey acknowledged that the conclusion that Russia acted with the motive of helping Trump was based on “logic,” not intelligence.

“This is their opinion,” Fleitz told Fox.

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