During NBC’s special live coverage of Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday, reporter Cynthia McFadden revealed that U.S. intelligence officials deemed rumors of a Russian dossier of damaging information about the President-elect to not be credible. She explained to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt: “...as far as they are concerned, and I’m going to quote now, ‘Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Donald Trump and the Russian government, period.’”
McFadden further informed viewers: “They wanted it available, we are told, so that if they felt they needed to explain to the President-elect the difference between vetted intelligence...and this raw kind of disinformation that’s out there.” She paraphrased the officials saying, “This is the kind of political junk that's out there, we don't believe it.”
In other words, the unsubstantiated claims would only have been mentioned during Trump’s intelligence briefing as an example of “disinformation” or bad intelligence – in contrast to credible “vetted” intelligence.
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McFadden’s reporting came only after the network morning shows devoted an astonishing 44 minutes of air time to the unverified hit piece.
Here are excerpts of McFadden during the January 11 special coverage:
11:00 AM ET
LESTER HOLT: He will also likely face questions about these reports that surfaced yesterday concerning a written addendum to his intelligence briefing on Russian hacking, which includes alleged and unverified Russian claims they have damaging information on the President-elect. We’re joined by Chuck Todd and Cynthia McFadden. Cynthia, you’ve been working this story, where do we stand? What do we know what's true and what's not?
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Senior intelligence officials tell us, Lester, that that two-page addendum was indeed part of the briefing materials used by Mr. Clapper and others available to them to brief Donald Trump, but that it was never discussed in the briefing. The briefing was oral, there’s no place at Trump Tower to contain top secret documents. No documents were turned over. And the intelligence officials go further and say that as far as they are concerned, and I’m going to quote now, “Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Donald Trump and the Russian government, period.”
11:06 AM ET
HOLT: Cynthia, he'll come out, and based on his tweets, say he did not receive that information and he will be correct based on what you’ve –
MCFADDEN: Based on our reporting, yeah. And so you might wonder, why was it part of this addendum if the intelligence community didn't believe it to be true? Says it wasn't verified, as we’ve all said. And it was context. They wanted it available, we are told, so that if they felt they needed to explain to the President-elect the difference between vetted intelligence – i.e. the Russians did try to participate and influence our election – and this raw kind of disinformation that’s out there, they had it available. They also had information about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, not verified, not believed, not intelligence.
HOLT: So as a way to say, “Hey, we see that other stuff out there but we understand the difference.”
MCFADDEN: Yes, in trying to explain to the President-elect who said continually, “This is just political.” “Oh, we’ll show you ‘just political.’ This is the kind of political junk that's out there, we don't believe it.” They never got there in the briefing.