Memos written by former FBI director James Comey reveal that CNN may have helped orchestrate a possible setup of then-president-elect Donald Trump.
According to multiple published reports, the memos seem to indicate that a meeting Comey had with Trump was prompted by pressure from CNN and then was used to launch the media frenzy over the anti-Trump dossier, which was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist writes:
In multiple memos, Comey specifically mentioned that CNN had the dossier and wanted a “news hook” that would enable the network to report on its most salacious allegations even though they had not been verified.
Writing on the conversation he had with Trump, Comey wrote in a classified memo: “I said the Russians allegedly had tapes involving him and prostitutes at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow from about 2013.”
As Hemingway notes, no reports had been published by any media outlet at the time Comey met with Trump and briefed him on the allegations contained in the dossier.
“I said media like CNN had [the allegations] and were looking for a news hook,” Comey specifically told Trump and noted in his memo. The Daily Caller reports:
Four days after that meeting, CNN published a story revealing the existence of a salacious report alleging the Russian government had compromised Trump. The CNN story was referring to what’s now known as the dossier — an unverified 35-page report written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
“I explained again why I had thought it important that he know about it,” Comey wrote in another classified memo on January 28, 2017. “I also explained that one of the reasons we told him was that the media, CNN in particular, was telling us they were about to run with it.”
CNN's January 10, 2017 report on the salacious and unproven allegations contained in the dossier was extremely significant, as Hemingway explains:
Extremely well-placed sources told CNN that the Obama administration’s top intelligence appointees had briefed Obama, Biden, and Trump all about a dossier they took incredibly seriously and considered credible. And it sounded really bad, as the headline [of CNN's report] indicated.
“Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump,” CNN reported in an article written by Jake Tapper, Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, and Carl Bernstein. What's notable about the authors is that CNN's Perez had undisclosed ties to Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled the Democrat-funded dossier. Perez later falsely reported that the Republicans were the ones who funded the dossier, even after the facts had been made public which proved he was not telling the truth. Hemingway continues:
BuzzFeed published the actual dossier within minutes of CNN’s story going live, showing the world that the dossier was riddled with salacious gossip that lacked even a possibility of corroboration.
Among the most important facts revealed in Comey's memos, which the Justice Department released on Thursday, is the fact that there were seven memos compiled by Comey, four of which were classified. This is significant because Comey leaked four memos to his friend for him to turn around and leak to the media, which means that at least one of the memos had to have been classified.
As noted by Hemingway and the Washington Examiner's Byron York, one of the biggest takeaways from Comey's January 6, 2017 memo is that Comey indicates in the memo that the briefing was the idea of then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
"I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to [Trump] about alone or in a very small group," Comey wrote. "I then executed the session exactly as I had planned."
Comey then went on to tell Trump that CNN had the allegations and was looking for a "news hook" so they could publish the salacious and unproven allegations.
"I said it was important that we not give them the excuses to write that the FBI has the material or [REDACTED] and that we were keeping it very close-hold," Comey wrote in his memo. As The Federalist and The Daily Caller both noted, CNN ran the story just a few days after Comey's meeting with Trump.
Given Clapper's connection to Comey's meeting with Trump, Hemingway notes an important finding from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) final report on Russia. The committee's report found:
Finding #44: Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, now a CNN national security analyst, provided inconsistent testimony to the Committee about his contacts with the media, including CNN.
So Comey, at Clapper’s expressed behest, told Trump that CNN was "looking for a news hook" to publish dossier allegations. He said this in the briefing of Trump that almost immediately leaked to CNN, which provided them the very news hook they sought and needed.
The briefing on January 6, 2017 was the catalyst for a series of events that ultimately led to where the Russia investigation currently sits. The briefing was immediately leaked to CNN, which attempted to legitimize the dossier, and in the process ignited a media firestorm. Hemingway concludes:
During the freakout, Comey deliberately refused to say in public what he acknowledged repeatedly in private — that the President of the United States was not under investigation. He even noted in his memos that he told the president at least three times that he was not under investigation. Comey’s refusal to admit publicly what he kept telling people privately led to his firing.
That led to Comey leaking multiple memos in order to get a special counsel appointed out of revenge.
Hemingway's assertion that Comey leaked the memos out of revenge is not without factual basis. During an interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie this week, Comey admitted that he had an "obvious" bias against Trump because "he fired me."