CNN Newsroom Hosts Bungle Trump-IG Report Fact Check

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CNN Newsroom co-hosts Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow like to think of themselves as being on the front lines in President Trump's war against the truth. Trump's Tuesday rally in Pennsylvania in the aftermath of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on the FBI's handling of Crossfire Hurricane provided the duo another chance to put on their fact-checking hats for their Wednesday show, but once again it was they who were the ones spreading misinformation.

Sciutto began by spinning for the FBI, "This report found definitively there was no political bias by the FBI when it opened its investigation into Russian election meddling and any involvement, possible involvement by the Trump campaign in 2016." He was generous towards the FBI in choosing the word "definitively," but not so generous when it came to Trump, whom he took the opportunity to call a liar: "That has not stopped the president from continuing to lie. It's clear he's lying here about what the report said."

 

 

A brief clip from Trump's rally was then played where Trump declared, "The inspector general's shocking report proved that the Obama FBI obtained secret warrants to spy on my campaign based on a phony foreign dossier of debunked smears paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC." He did not say anything about political bias at the FBI. Sciutto misrepresented what Trump said.

After Harlow read from the report, stating that there was nothing improper about the opening of the investigation, another clip of Trump was played where he asserted, "Folks, they spied on our campaign, okay? They spied."

Harlow then tried again to fact-check Trump by reading directly from the report, "'we found no evidence that the FBI placed any CHSs or UCEs' -- CHS is confidential human source,-- 'within the Trump campaign or tasked any CHSs or UCEs to report on the campaign.'”   

This time the hosts tried to use semantics to cast doubt on Trump's claims, but "spy" and "surveil" are not dissimilar.

Throughout the entire segment, Sciutto and Harlow declared that it was definitive that there was no political bias, but we can also read the report and on page ii see that Horowitz came to that conclusion by saying that was outside of his lane and by being giving those involved the benefit of the doubt, "If the explanations we were given for a particular decision were consistent with legal requirements ... we did not conclude that decision was based on improper considerations in absence of documentary or testimonial evidence to the contrary."

Maybe it's CNN that needs the fact-checking.

Here is a transcript for the December 11 show:

CNN

CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto

9:37 AM ET

JIM SCIUTTO: We should note this. This report found definitively there was no political bias by the FBI when it opened its investigation into Russian election meddling and any involvement, possible involvement by the Trump campaign in 2016. Despite that, that has not stopped the president from continuing to lie. It's clear he's lying here about what the report said. 

BEGIN CLIP

DONALD TRUMP: The inspector general's shocking report proved that the Obama FBI obtained secret warrants to spy on my campaign based on a phony foreign dossier of debunked smears paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. 

END CLIP

POPPY HARLOW: Fact-checking this. This is what is in the IG report. Quote, “the FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain information about or protect against a national security threat or federal crime.” All right. Let's cue the president again. Listen to this. 

BEGIN CLIP

TRUMP: Folks, they spied on our campaign, okay? They spied. 

END CLIP

HARLOW: Okay. Let me read you two things from the IG report. One, “we found no evidence that the FBI placed any CHSs or UCEs” -- CHS is confidential human source,-- “within the Trump campaign or tasked any CHSs or UCEs to report on the campaign” lt also says “we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations. 

SCIUTTO: Those are direct quotes from the report and we should not that inspector generals, whether it's in the FBI, the DOJ or intelligence community are chosen specifically to be unbiased investigators of questions like this. The president not just attacking the IG’s report. He is also still taking on the FBI chief, we should remind you, the president appointed. 

 

 

 
NB Daily Government Agencies FBI CNN CNN Newsroom Video Poppy Harlow Jim Sciutto Donald Trump Michael Horowitz

 

 
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