CNN Forced to Issue Correction After Comey's Written Testimony Refutes Report
CNN was forced to issue a correction Tuesday, after former FBI director James Comey's written testimony contradicted its damaging report about the president.
"The most trusted name in news" had reported that Comey was expected on Thursday to dispute President Trump's claims that Comey had told him on multiple occasions that he was not under investigation.
In his termination letter to Comey on May 10, Trump mentioned that Comey had told him three times that he was not under investigation: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” the president wrote.
But in the former FBI director's written testimony for his opening statement in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey confirmed that on three separate occasions he had told Trump that he was not under investigation for collusion with Russia.
Via The Hill:
The report, titled “Comey expected to refute Trump," was based on unnamed sources and said Comey's conversations with the president "were much more nuanced," and that Trump drew the wrong conclusion.
The story was complied by four CNN journalists, including Gloria Borger, Eric Lichtblau, Jake Tapper and Brian Rokus.
Borger reiterated the report's claims in an appearance on CNN Tuesday.
“Comey is going to dispute the president on this point if he’s asked about it by senators, and we have to assume that he will be," said Borger, the network's chief political analyst. "He will say he never assured Donald Trump that he was not under investigation, that that would have been improper for him to do so.”
Comey's opening statement did, however, mention asserting that Trump was not under investigation, however the statement failed to specify whether Trump was not under criminal investigation, but only said there was no counter-intelligence investigation on the president.
CNN's sources were spectacularly wrong.
"Prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally," wrote Comey in his prepared testimony. "That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted."
"During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance," Comey added.
According to Comey's statement, Trump broached the subject again during a second meeting with the FBI director, when he apparently requested a deeper investigation into Russia so he could be exonerated.
"During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them," Comey wrote. "He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it."
Finally, on On March 30, according to Comey's testimony, Trump called the FBI director and asked him why the Russia investigation was being slow-walked, complaining that it was a “cloud” impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country.
"I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump," Comey wrote. "I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, ‘We need to get that fact out.’"
CNN issued a correction and revised its headline Wednesday afternoon: "Comey unlikely to judge on obstruction.”
CORRECTION AND UPDATE: This article was published before Comey released his prepared opening statement," it reads above the original Tuesday story. "The article and headline have been corrected to reflect that Comey does not directly dispute that Trump was told multiple times he was not under investigation in his prepared testimony released after this story was published.
But more than "not directly disputing" Trump's claim, Comey's testimony seemed to directly confirm it.