Politics

CNN Blasted for Standing by Discredited Trump Tower Report

Michael Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis admitted to being an anonymous source, walked back his claim POTUS knew in advance of controversial meeting

CNN found itself mired in controversy after it stood by its reporting for a bombshell report incriminating President Donald Trump when lawyer Lanny Davis admitted he was one of the report’s anonymous sources and backed off the information he told CNN.

“I made a mistake,” Davis — now representing Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen — told BuzzFeed News Monday.

CNN published a report on July 27 called “Cohen claims Trump knew in advance of 2016 Trump Tower meeting,” citing “sources with knowledge.”

Davis now admits that he was one of those “sources with knowledge” in the report, which alleged that Cohen was prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller that the president knew in advance of the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 as part of the probe into allegations of Russian collusion.

The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.; son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and former campaign chairman Pail Manafort attended the meeting with a Russian lawyer, who promised dirt on 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump has denied prior knowledge of the meeting. The Russian lawyer, in fact, had no dirt on Clinton — and actually wanted the meeting in order to lobby for removal of certain U.S. sanctions against influential figures in the Russian government.

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But Davis backtracked comments he made to both CNN and The Washington Post, whose own report didn’t go as far as CNN’s.

Davis denied last week he was one of those sources. But Davis admitted on Sunday he was one of The Post’s anonymous sources — and admitted to sourcing the CNN story Monday.

“I should have been more clear — including with you — that I could not independently confirm what happened,” Davis admitted to The Post. “I regret my error.”

Although Davis also claimed Trump knew in advance about Russia’s intent to hack Democrats’ emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, he told The Post, “I am not sure … There’s a possibility that is the case. But I am not sure.”

To make matters even worse, CNN wrote in its initial report, “Contacted by CNN, one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment” — even though Davis now admits he was one of those “sources of knowledge” for CNN.

The Post wrote an article on Tuesday called, “Michael Cohen’s lawyer has severely undermined the case against Trump.”

Nevertheless, CNN still stands by its initial reporting. A spokesperson for the network told BuzzFeed on Monday, “We stand by our story, and are confident in our reporting of it.”

CNN’s apparent deception earned the network a huge backlash.

“Just saying, ‘We stand by the story’ — imagine if the White House was caught in this kind of blunder. Wouldn’t every news organization — including CNN — say, ‘We need a more detailed explanation of why you still believe this is true when the guy’s own lawyer says it’s not?'” Fox News host and media analyst Howard Kurtz said Tuesday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald tweeted Tuesday, “This latest CNN scandal is simple, not complex: Lanny Davis says he was an anonymous source for CNN’s blockbuster July 26 story. But CNN told the public he refused to comment. Who is lying? Only CNN can say. Why won’t they?”

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“Beyond the CNN scandal, Lanny Davis went all over TV with inflammatory claims he now *admits were false*, but which he leveraged to induce people to donate $160,000 in the name of Cohen’s “Truth Fund” that will go to pay Davis. Definitely unethical, arguably charity fraud,” Greenwald added.

Former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren tweeted, “Why did Lanny Davis do this? And how can any news organization now use him as a source? Or even book him on a show?”

Politico reporter Marc Caputo tweeted Monday, “Lanny Davis said he was a source who lied to CNN. That’s on him. But CNN in the story in question wrote ‘one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.’ That means CNN might have misled readers about talking to Davis. That’s a bigger problem than a source-burn.”

The Hill’s Joe Concha tweeted, “Very difficult to see how CNN can continue to stand by its July 27 Michael Cohen/Trump Tower story given its own formerly anonymous source is now openly admitting to lying about it on the network. Retraction seems to be the only recourse here.”

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