Several leftists and anti-Trumpers on Thursday cited a misleading screenshot of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to affirm the existence of the alleged “pee-pee” blackmail tape from the unverified dossier authored by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
The purported comprising footage is said to show President Trump watching two prostitutes pee on a bed inside the presidential suite at Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel in 2013. The alleged incident is believed to have occurred during a visit to Russia to attend the Miss Universe pageant. According to a footnote in Mueller’s report, longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was sent a text message from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze in October 2016, saying: “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know…”
The footnote continues on the next page, where Mueller’s report then concedes that Rtskhiladze told investigators that any alleged tapes were fake, to his knowledge:
Rtskhiladze said “tapes” referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia. Cohen said he spoke to Trump about the issue after receiving the texts from Rtskhiladze. Rtskhiladze said he was told the tapes were fake, but he did not communicate that to Cohen. [emphasis added]
Although the report cites Rtskhiladze calling the alleged footage “fake,” this did not stop journalists, pundits, and other verified media figures from deceptively sharing only the first part of the report’s except. Those who shared the misleading passage include MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin, Ellen producer Andy Lassner, Daily Beast contributor Rick Wilson, and former Hillary Clinton staffer Zac Petkanas.
In footnote on Page 239: "On October 30, 2016, Michael Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that said, 'Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there's anything else. Just so you know …. '"
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 18, 2019
If nothing else, we now know that the pee tapes were real. #MuellerReport
— Lisa Braun Dubbels (@lisadubbels) April 18, 2019
THERE. ARE. TAPES. https://t.co/54KFemxFWJ
— Zac Petkanas (@Zac_Petkanas) April 18, 2019
Subpoena Michael Cohen about this. He was talking with Russians about tapes. Was he lying to Congress when he said he didn’t know of them in his testimony? https://t.co/T9AD2GqGJS
— 🕷Dante Atkins🕷 (@DanteAtkins) April 18, 2019
#PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape #PeeTape https://t.co/LzUu48lhnn
— andy lassner (@andylassner) April 18, 2019
🚿 📼 Pee Tape 📼 🚿
Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else.” #MuellerReport #PeeTape #Mueller #DumpTrump pic.twitter.com/W5xQ130lnr
— Tommy Campbell (@MrTommyCampbell) April 18, 2019
Ok so we can all agree now more than ever that the pee tape exists right?
— Neha Shastry (@NehaShastry) April 18, 2019
One notable verified reporter duped by the fake screenshot is Mic’s Emily Singer, whose biggest claim to fame is previously generating one of the most embarrassing hoax “scoops” of the Trump-Russia media frenzy. In July 2018, Singer falsely assumed a photo showed Russian national Maria Butina — who is being prosecuted for alleged spying — inside the White House. After the humiliating episode, she continued contributing to Mic through November 2018 and now writes for David Brock’s Shareblue.
There were tapes. Was there a pee tape? We may never know. pic.twitter.com/w4DcFGH1LV
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) April 18, 2019
Bloomberg’s live blog of the Mueller report’s release fails to include the part in which the tapes are referred to as “fake.”
The media outlet’s congressional reporter Billy House wrote:
The report mentions alleged compromising tapes of Trump conduct while on a 2013 trip to Moscow:Comey’s briefing to the president in January “included the Steele reporting’s unverified allegation that the Russians had compromising tapes of the President involving conduct when he was a private citizen during a 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant.’’“During the 2016 presidential campaign, a similar claim may have reached candidate Trump. On October 30, 2016, Michael Cohen received a text from Russian businessman Giorgi Rtskhiladze that said, `Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know….’ ….10/30/16 Text Message, Rtskhiladze to Cohen. Rtskhiladze said `tapes’ referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group….’’
The report, in total, is 448 pages long. It describes in detail how the Russian GRU intelligence unit hacked campaign emails of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, which were subsequently leaked by WikiLeaks. It also specifies there were some links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Attorney General William Barr previewed the report immediately before its release, emphasizing there was no cooperation. Echoing the summary he gave last month, Barr said the investigation found the Russian Internet Research Agency spread disinformation on social media “designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States.”
Barr released the report to high-ranking members of Congress and then the public. Further, he said no Americans colluded with Russians to sway the election. On the issue of whether President Trump obstructed justice in any way, the report said it couldn’t clear him. It identifies 10 episodes where the president possibly could have obstructed justice.
In response to the report, President Trump tweeted a meme that said, “Game Over,” in a style from the HBO drama Game of Thrones.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2019
The UPI contributed to this report.