At 5 pm Friday, CNN’s website splashed an exclusive headline — “US investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier” — in what sounded like a major development in the unconfirmed allegations that the Russian government had blackmail material on President Donald Trump.
But it wasn’t quite that. There was no confirmation of the alleged sex tape of Trump and prostitutes, or any major headway on rumors that Trump’s aides were working with foreign nationals during the election — or anything that “relates to the salacious allegations,” or even Trump, for that matter, CNN reported.
Instead, it was about the conversations between Russian officials and individuals detailed in the dossier, which previously could not be corroborated. CNN’s sources would not confirm which specific conversations, but this is what they did find:
But the intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier, according to the officials. CNN has not confirmed whether any content relates to then-candidate Trump.
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.
The story is that US intelligence agencies before could not corroborate any part of the dossier — related to Trump or otherwise — and now have been able to verify at least some of its reports. However, notably, they are not ready to pass judgment on whether this development means the Russian government actually does have blackmail on the president.
Unsurprisingly, White House press secretary Sean Spicer continued to deny all reports related to the dossier, and called CNN “fake news” — as reported by CNN:
Reached for comment this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, "We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting."
Spicer later called back and said, "This is more fake news. It is about time CNN focused on the success the President has had bringing back jobs, protecting the nation, and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations. The President won the election because of his vision and message for the nation."
The week before Trump’s inauguration, CNN reported that President Obama and Trump had been briefed on the dossier with a two-page document summarizing its findings. BuzzFeed published that document in full.
Further reading on the Russian dossier scandal:
- Vox’s Yochi Dreazen explained the bombshell report that Russia has blackmail on Trump, and why it became such a sensation.
- For an expert review, a former CIA analyst broke down how to read the leaked Russian dossier for Vox’s Sean Illing.
- Trump and his team’s reaction to the initial reports from CNN and BuzzFeed was unsurprisingly one of absolute anger, calling both the organizations fake news at a press conference. But what the two media organizations did with the story was very different, as Vox’s Zeeshan Aleem explains.