NBC News is walking back an Aug. 31 story that said Paul Manafort’s notes from the infamous meeting with Russians at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign included the word “donations” near a reference to the Republican National Committee.
To the mainstream media, having the word “donations” typed into the notes feature of a smart phone near where “RNC” was typed constitutes ironclad proof Manafort, who was then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign manager at the time, had approached the Russians for donations in violation of federal elections laws.
The story, written by Ken Dilanian and Carol E. Lee, attributed its information to “two sources briefed on the evidence.” It also cited anonymous sources as saying Special Counsel Robert Mueller is “closely scrutinizing” the Trump Tower meeting and is “keenly focused” on the president’s role in “crafting a response to the New York Times article that first disclosed the meeting.”
The sources apparently were not briefed accurately, as their story began to unravel quickly. In mere hours, NBC had issued a correction saying the word “donation” did not actually appear in the notes. Another anonymous source told them it said “donor” instead.
Then Politico reported that not even the word “donor” had appeared and declared in its headline “Notes from meeting with Russians said not to be damaging to Trump family.”
In other words, NBC News rushed to print with a story that attempted to suggest Paul Manafort was seeking donations from the Russians in the meeting to which Donald Trump Jr. had been invited on the pretext of giving him damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Manafort had not used the word “donation” or the word “donor.” The records of the meeting, which have been reviewed by Mueller’s investigators as well as investigators for Senate committees looking into the matter, “do not contain any damaging information about [Clinton], nor do they indicate that officials on the campaign were promising favors or seeking them in return for money, the people who’ve seen them said.”