A special report from the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, Cliff Kincaid, director
If you have any doubts about the basic dishonesty of CNN, consider how the channel not only broadcasts fake news but recycles it.
Remember that CNN “broke” the story about the “Russian Trump dossier” compiled by an ex-British intelligence agent for Hillary Clinton supporters. The document was opposition research against then-candidate Donald Trump, now President.
Despite the lack of any corroboration from any source, including hostile anti-Trump media or the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), after several months of secret efforts, CNN is now claiming in a February 10 story that its U.S. intelligence and investigative sources say that “some aspects” of the 35-page dossier “for the first time” have been “corroborated.”
Let’s examine this startling claim.
CNN is adamant as to how this is the very first shred of any purported confirmation of the “Trump dossier” ever to be found by U.S. official agencies:
“Until now, US intelligence and law enforcement officials have said they could not verify any parts of the dossier.”
“The corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents, these sources say.” [emphasis added, here and elsewhere]
Yet these very same “aspects” were reported in the press in September 2016 as then under active investigation by “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.” The latter are typical buzzwords for the CIA and FBI, which are indeed two of the main agencies CNN asked for official comment five months later in February 2017.
Did U.S. intelligence “forget” about their own investigations? Or did the CIA in particular simply wait several months and pretend ignorance of the September investigations in order to make an “aha” discovery that would be reported in a leak as sensational “breaking news” in February?
According to CNN, the intercepted data allegedly confirm that “some…conversations described in the dossier” actually “took place” and were between named Russians and/or foreigners. These allegedly involve confirming the existence of conversations between the “same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier” but do not confirm any of the “salacious allegations” about Trump (the purported lurid “sex perversions”).
But the “Trump dossier” is missing critical factual details such as many essential names, dates and places. So what is CNN talking about on the “dossier” detailing “same days” and “same locations?” The “Trump dossier” is almost devoid of any dates and locations of meetings of key figures, making its allegations suspiciously difficult to verify.
There are only two meetings in the entire 35-page “Trump dossier” with dates and locations of such alleged top-level meetings or conversations:
- Russian oil company head Igor Sechin supposedly meeting with sometime alleged Trump adviser Carter Page in Moscow about July 7-8, 2016; and
- Putin’s alleged meeting with ally and ex-ruler of Ukraine, Yanukovych, near Volgograd on Aug. 15, 2016.
A New York Times report similar to CNN’s indeed confirms that Page and Yanukovych are the targets of investigation using intercepted phone conversations, and that the “Trump dossier” is a major subject of review.
But the fact of Carter Page’s visit to Moscow was public news in a Reuters dispatch on July 7, 2016, and needed no six months of exhaustive review of “intercepted communications” to verify it. All one had to do was just Google it.
By September 23, 2016, Yahoo News was reporting that, based in part on U.S. intelligence sources who had “actively monitored” (or intercepted) Russian communications, the specific alleged Sechin-Page meeting was under investigation by U.S. intelligence sources. This, again, was easily discovered by Googling it. If the CIA “forgot” that it “knew” about this “monitoring,” officials could just Google the Yahoo story to help them “remember” its own investigation.
The same major media that fell all over themselves claiming they were so scrupulous in not publishing any of the “Trump dossier”—because they could not confirm any of it—in fact were leaking material from the “dossier” in veiled and not-so-veiled references as far back as The New York Times on July 29, 2016.
A Yahoo News report on September 23, 2016, reads like a long disguised excerpt from the July 19 report in the “Trump dossier” on the Page trip to Moscow, combined with the Reuters dispatch. Yahoo wrote that U.S. officials had received intelligence reports that during his trip to Moscow in July, Page met with Igor Sechin, a close Putin associate and head of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, “a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News.” Sechin supposedly discussed the issue of lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia, “the Western intelligence source said.” The same source said that Page met with another top Putin aide while in Moscow, named Igor Diveykin.
The “Trump dossier” says exactly the same things that appeared two months later in Yahoo News:
TRUMP DOSSIER, July 19, 2016, Report:
“Trump advisor Carter Page holds secret meetings in Moscow with Sechin and senior Kremlin Internal Affairs official, Divyekin [sic]…Sechin raises issue [of] lifting of western sanctions against Russia….Speaking in July 2016, a Russian source close to Rosneft President, Putin close associate and US-sanctioned individual, Igor Sechin, confided the details of a recent secret meeting between him and…Carter Page.”
(Steele report, dated July 19, 2016, all-caps emphasis removed)
Yahoo’s “well-placed Western intelligence source” very likely may be Christopher Steele, the ex-British MI6 intelligence agent, who was hired by Clinton financial backers to produce the “Trump dossier.”
Yahoo News went on to say that investigations of Carter Page and his Russian contacts were under way, including the “talks” that were being “actively monitored and investigated,” which sounds like the “monitoring” of intercepted communications. Again, remember this is September 2016, not a sudden “first time” discovery in February 2017:
Yahoo News, September 23, 2016:
“The activities of Trump adviser [sic] Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and ‘high ranking sanctioned individuals’ in Moscow over the summer as evidence of ‘significant and disturbing ties’ between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.
“… a congressional source familiar with the briefings…added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s [Carter Page’s] talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being ‘actively monitored and investigated.’ [Emphasis added.]
“A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer commented on this latest report on February 10, stating that “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”
The CNN report is indeed fake news, old recycled fake news, dished up as brand new.
Why has there been no apparent progress in the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement investigation since September 23, 2016, given that this latest leak tells us nothing more than what was reported in September? Could it be that when something is fake one cannot find out anything more because there is nothing more to find? The tiny grain of truth around which the fake has been built (such as Page’s actual Moscow visit) was easily found in the original Reuters news dispatch.
Finally, something must be said about the hypocritical reversal of the media on what they were calling the rise of the “surveillance state” and the assault on our civil rights with the revelations of former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
Now, suddenly, all that concern for civil rights is silenced when it comes to the much more intrusive actual intercepted conversations of U.S. citizens who happen to be connected to now-President Trump. Trump’s people apparently have no civil rights as far as the media and the “surveillance state” itself are concerned.