News & Politics

NBC News Reporter Caught Lying about Michael Cohen Testimony on Trump and WikiLeaks

The testimony Wednesday by former Trump attorney and convicted perjurer Michael Cohen before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform did not produce the smoking guns that Democrats were hoping for, but it did produce a prodigious amount of fake news.

Several members of the committee noted beforehand and during the hearing the oddity of Cohen testifying before a congressional committee as he’s headed to prison for lying to Congress:

But it seems that Cohen wasn’t the only liar.

NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt was at the hearing and reported on-air about the proceedings. After Cohen’s testimony, she made a flatly false assertion about a phone conversation between Trump confidant Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in response to a WikiLeaks tweet about Cohen’s claims that Trump had foreknowledge of Wikileaks’ DNC email drop.

Hunt attempted to refute WikiLeaks by claiming that Cohen did not testify that Stone and Assange had a phone call — even though that is specifically what Cohen claimed in his written testimony submitted to the committee last night.

On page 10 of Cohen’s written testimony, he unmistakably claims that there had been a phone call between the two:

“Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Cohen wrote.

And as WikiLeaks noted in response to Hunt’s tweet, Cohen clearly claimed it was a phone call between Stone and Assange during his testimony before the committee:

Hours later, Hunt had still not corrected her verifiably false claim.

When Cohen’s testimony was released last night, many news outlets were quick to hype his claim about Trump’s foreknowledge of WikiLeaks’ DNC email release:

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) even told CNN it would lead to Trump’s indictment:

WikiLeaks quickly issued a denial:

Before Democrats start dropping impeachment resolutions, it bears reminding that Michael Cohen has already been convicted of lying to Congress and the FBI. He has yet to “produce the receipts” or any other supporting evidence for his claim that this phone call between Trump and Stone took place.

Roger Stone (who has legal troubles of his own) publicly denied that any such call with WikiLeaks took place, telling NBC News last night, “Mr. Cohen’s statement is not true.”

WikiLeaks expressly denies that any phone call between Stone and Assange occurred:

Further damaging the hopes of those predicting Trump’s indictment or impeachment as a result of Cohen’s claim is the fact that WikiLeaks had publicly announced the impending email release weeks before the alleged phone call between Trump and Stone that Cohen claims he overheard. 

During Wednesday’s hearing, it was pointed out by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) that the WikiLeaks release appeared in the media on June 12, 2016 — weeks before the alleged phone call (beginning ~3:40):

Mr. Assange reported to the media on June 12 that those emails would be leaked. I’m not saying you have fake news, I’m saying you have old news.

The article displayed by Rep. Massie was by The Guardian based on a television interview that Assange had given to a UK news channel:

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has said his organisation is preparing to publish more emails Hillary Clinton sent and received while US secretary of state.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, is under FBI investigation to determine whether she broke federal law by using her private email in sending classified information. A new WikiLeaks release of Clinton emails is likely to fan a controversy that has bedevilled her campaign and provide further ammunition for Donald Trump, her Republican presidential rival, who has used the issue to attack her.

Assange’s comments came in an interview on ITV’s Peston on Sunday. “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton … We have emails pending publication, that is correct,” Assange said.He did not specify when or how many emails would be published.

WikiLeaks also noted that they repeatedly advertised the coming DNC email leaks weeks in advance:

So why are media outlets trying to overhype — and in Kasie Hunt’s case, flatly misrepresent — this specific claim?

Because the Russian collusion case is quickly collapsing and there is very little evidence to try to continue to make that case.

Cohen’s testimony today eviscerated a number of established media Russian collusion talking points, so misrepresentations and outright lies are about all they have left.