Accuracy in Media

Writer Jonathan Chait declared it a “good summary of the public evidence.” John Harwood of CNBC tweeted that “as Mueller grinds on in secret, new @CNBC video laying out the Trump-Russia links in plain sight.”

So it’s worthwhile to take a look at a nearly 8-minute-long video CNBC put together in response to emerging evidence President Trump and his team were spied on by the Obama administration right up to the time they took office and possibly beyond.

The video starts with a tape of Flynn arriving at the courthouse to plead guilty to lying to the FBI. It does not mention the FBI has since admitted its agents did not think Flynn was lying in the relevant conversations or that his guilty plea has not been accepted by courts and indeed probably will be overturned.

It also fails to mention that the deputy campaign adviser actually was a deputy to the campaign adviser or that the actions for which he has pleaded guilty occurred nearly a decade before he entered the campaign.

The video acknowledges the lack of proof against Trump but leaves the impression that it is only a matter of time.

“No one has shown Trump conspired with Russia in 2016. No one knows whether Robert Mueller will ever make such an occasion, but he’s getting help from Trump’s former national security adviser, deputy campaign chief and campaign foreign policy adviser, all of whom have admitted felonies.”

It then declared “a long trail of interactions with Russians” – many a decade or more ago – “already sits in plain sight.”

There was “the Soho project in New York” in 2006 that involved Russian investors. There was 2008, when Donald Trump Jr., said “money was pouring in from Russia” and Trump Sr., sold a mansion to a Russian for $95 million, which was twice what he paid for it.

There was a quote from Eric Trump saying Russians would finance Trump Organization projects when traditional American banks wouldn’t and, of course, that the Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow for a brief time.

“And he openly courted Russian President Vladimir Putin,” the narrator says, before a Trump tweet goes up that says, “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend.”

The video then took on Paul Manafort, briefly Trump’s campaign chairman, and the “tens of millions of dollars he got from Trump allies in Ukraine.” Manafort is a lobbyist, Ukraine was his client, and his failure to register as a foreign agent, if proven, is a crime usually punished by fine if at all. Moreover, the Clinton campaign appears to have paid Ukraine’s government for intelligence data.

It then mentions that Flynn got $45,000 for a speech and sat a table with Putin at an awards dinner. It does not mention that Jill Stein sat at the same table.

It tries to paint outsiders Carter Page and George Papadopoulos as intricate parts of the campaign who were compromised by involvement with spying. It does not mention that Trump appears to have had few dealings with Papadopoulos or that Page has repeatedly offered to testify to clear his name.

The video devotes considerable time to the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer, among others. It does not mention the meeting lasted 20 minutes, and there was no follow-up, nor that Obama administration officials appear to have bent immigration rules to let the lawyer into the country.

The video then implies this led to release of the DNC emails. “After that, Democratic Party emails that U.S. intelligence agencies say were stolen from Russia were released by front groups.

“Trump publicly asked for more. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

So that’s the state of the case – guilty pleas that had nothing to do with Russian collusion, dark aspersions about bank financing and questions about the Trump Tower meeting. And continuing to take seriously Trump’s obvious joke about finding the 30,000 Hillary emails.

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