President-elect Donald Trump used his first press conference since July to rebuke specific news outlets for publishing reports on Tuesday regarding his campaign’s supposed dealings with Russia.
In a comment about BuzzFeed, which chose to publish the full unverified dossier of allegations, Trump called the media site “a failing pile of garbage.” Shortly afterward, CNN reporter Jim Acosta attempted to ask a question. Trump declined, calling the news network “fake news.”
The president-elect’s reaction to these latest media reports follows future White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s rebuke earlier in the morning from the lobby of Trump Tower.
“It’s frankly outrageous and highly responsible for a left-wing blog that was openly hostile to the president-elect’s campaign for publishing salacious and flat-out false information on the internet just days before he takes the oath of office,” said Spicer from the lobby of Trump Tower. “According to BuzzFeed’s own editor, there are some serious reasons to doubt the allegations in the report. The executive editor of the New York Times also dismissed the report by saying it was ‘totally unsubstantiated,’ echoing the concerns that many other reporters expressed on the internet. The fact that BuzzFeed and CNN made the decision to run with this unsubstantiated claim is a sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks. The report is not an intelligence report, plain and simple.”
The Republican National Committee communications director pointed specifically to the line in the report that Trump attorney Michael Cohen had met Kremlin officials in Prague in August. Spicer said Cohen’s passport shows he did not leave or enter the United States in the months of August and September, confirming a report from CNN Wednesday morning that said a government source had confirmed it was a different Michael Cohen that had visited Prague.
Asked to respond, BuzzFeed communications team told Yahoo News, “We stand by our decision to publish the dossier, and would point you to Ben’s email to BuzzFeed News staff about why we decided to publish.”
CNN published a story prior to the BuzzFeed story Tuesday stating that intelligence chiefs had brief both Trump and President Obama about the claims of Russian attempts to compromise the president-elect. The CNN story did not contain the details of the allegations because the organization could not independently corroborate the specific allegations.
Following the publication of the report Tuesday night, many reporters remarked that the documents released by BuzzFeed had been circulating for months but there had been no way to verify their contents, which were reportedly written by a former British intelligence officer as part of an opposition research commissioned against Trump during the 2016 campaign.
In a brief interview in the Times newsroom on Tuesday evening, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said the paper would not publish the document because the allegations were “totally unsubstantiated.”
“We, like others, investigated the allegations and haven’t corroborated them, and we felt we’re not in the business of publishing things we can’t stand by,” Mr. Baquet said.