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Lanny Davis, who has been engaged in high-stakes crisis management and political lawyering for decades, says he made a mistake.
CNN, which relied on Davis at least in part for a story he now says is false, won’t say it made a mistake.
And the contretemps contains a revealing look at the sausage-making of investigative reporting and the sometimes murky dance between reporters and their unnamed sources.
The article goes on to state the following:
Davis, who I’ve found to be a straight shooter over a quarter century dating back to the Clinton scandals, told me in a telephone interview yesterday that he had made an error and regrets it.
“I should not be talking to reporters on background about something I’m not certain about,” Davis told me, describing his interactions with CNN reporters. “The combination of big stakes and a big mistake is a bad moment for me. If I had a redo in life, I wouldn’t have said anything about the subject.”
After initially saying nothing, here is the sum total of CNN’s comment: “We stand by our story, and are confident in our reporting of it.” A CNN report yesterday said that Davis kept changing his story in his dealings with the network.
Here’s the backstory: CNN dropped a bombshell last month by reporting that Davis’ client, Michael Cohen, had information that Donald Trump knew in advance of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, his son-in-law, campaign chairman and a Russian lawyer. “Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller,” according to “the sources,” CNN said.
The president has repeatedly denied any advance knowledge of the meeting.
The story, whose bylines included Carl Bernstein and Jim Sciutto, was picked up by the broadcast networks and many other major media organizations.
But now Davis has outed himself as an anonymous source for CNN, and says Cohen has no such information about advance knowledge by the president.
In my interview, Davis said he told CNN reporters that he couldn’t confirm the Trump Tower allegation but encouraged them to check it out. He now believes they may have interpreted this as giving them a green light.
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