Washington Post Undermines CNN ‘Exclusive’ on Trump WikiLeaks Email

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CNN published an exclusive Russia story Friday, reporting that an unearthed email indicated that WikiLeaks may have reached out to then-candidate Donald Trump’s team during the campaign to offer hacked documents — only for the story to be undermined hours later by the Washington Post.

The article, titled, “Exclusive: Email shows effort to give Trump campaign WikiLeaks documents” and written by Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, reported that the Trump team was sent an email on September 4, a month before the John Podesta emails would be leaked day-by-day to the public via WikiLeaks and three weeks before Trump Jr. exchanged direct messages with the outlet on Twitter. That email offered a website and decryption key to the team.

CNN reported:

Congressional investigators are trying to ascertain whether the individual who sent the September email is legitimate and whether it shows additional efforts by WikiLeaks to connect with Trump’s son and others on the Trump campaign. The email also indicated that the Trump campaign could access records from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose hacked emails were made public by a Russian front group 10 days later.

CNN was cautious about the email, which its reporters had apparently not seen, and qualified that it was not clear if the email is legitimate. CNN’s report offered little information and said that the email was “described” to them by multiple sources. According to that description, it was sent from someone called “Mike Erickson” and was addressed to Trump, Trump Jr., and Trump Jr.’s personal assistant.

CNN admitted that the legitimacy of the email was questionable.

“Congressional investigators are uncertain who the sender is, and CNN was unable to make contact with the individual. It’s not clear whether the email was a legitimate effort to provide the hacked documents to the Trump campaign,” the report says.

Trump Jr.’s spokesman told the outlet that he didn’t remember the email, and took no action on it.

But hours later, the Washington Post reported that the email was actually drawing attention to information that was already publicly available.

Crucially, the Post, whose reporters have seen a copy of the email, reported that the email flagged an upload of Democratic National Committee files by WikiLeaks and was actually sent Sept. 14, not Sept. 4 as CNN reported. The difference in the date is vital, as WikiLeaks had reportedly published the information linked to in the email on Sept. 13, making it publicly available and meaning that the writer was flagging information that was already in the public domain.

According to the Post: “The message also noted that information from former secretary of state Colin Powell’s inbox was available ‘on DCLeaks.com.’ That development, too, had been publicly reported earlier that day.”

An attorney for Trump Jr. blasted members of the House Intelligence Committee for leaking the document in a misleading way.

“The email was never read or responded to — and the House Intelligence Committee knows this,” he said in a statement to the Post. “It is profoundly disappointing that members of the House Intelligence Committee would deliberately leak a document, with the misleading suggestion that the information was not public, when they know that there is not a scintilla of evidence that Mr. Trump Jr. read or responded to the email.”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, meanwhile, seemed puzzled by CNN’s initial report, tweeting that “it’s not clear what this has to do with WikiLeaks.

He later linked to the Post’s reporting and asked, “who’s going to be fired?”

The development is the latest sign that despite breathless claims of “Russian collusion” in the months after the election, there has been little meat on the bones of that accusation.

CNN’s apparent botch comes a week after ABC was forced to walk back a bombshell report that initially claimed that former national security advisor Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that President Trump told him to reach out to the Russian officials as a candidate. Markets tumbled before the outlet clarified that this was actually as president-elect.

Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

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