Comey testifies that New York Times story is "fake News"
In today's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James B. Comey said that a New York Times story in February about alleged contacts between Trump intimates and Russian officials was bogus. “In the main, it was not true,” he said.
“The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters, about writing stories about classified information is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking about it,” said Comey during questioning from Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho). “And we don’t call the press and say, ‘Hey, you got that thing wrong.’ ”
The story shook the White House. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told “Fox News Sunday,” “The New York Times put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies, basically, you know, some treasonous type of accusations. We have now all kinds of people looking into this. I can assure you and I have been approved to say this — that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it’s grossly overstated and it was wrong. And there’s nothing to it.”
Not only that: CNN reported that the White House had asked top FBI personnel to rebut the New York Times piece, perhaps by speaking to reporters on background — even though the White House at the time was denouncing anonymous sources. The FBI declined to do so at the time.
Things have changed. Before, White House officials — a crew known to blast the media for often specious and baseless reasons — were blasting the story. Now a straight-shooting former FBI director is blasting the story. In addition, Comey confirmed Risch’s contentions that the former FBI director responded to the New York Times story by checking with his intelligence sources and informing lawmakers that it wasn’t accurate.
We’ve asked the New York Times for a fresh response. A New York Times spokesperson tells the Erik Wemple Blog, “As we have said previously, we believe in the accuracy of our reporting. Our reporters are currently looking into Mr. Comey’s statement about our story and we plan to report back as soon as we can.”