The biggest papers of record in the U.S. — The New York Times and The Washington Post — have been forced to retract a report about the FBI’s communication with former President Trump’s longtime lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The Post on Thursday was the first to report that Giuliani was explicitly warned by the FBI that he was the target of a Russian effort to influence the 2020 presidential election. Citing unnamed sources — identified only as people familiar with the matter — also said the conservative news network One America News (OAN) was also warned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
But on Saturday, the Post put out a correction noting it had removed both assertions.
“An earlier version of this story, published Thursday, incorrectly reported that One America News was warned by the FBI that it was the target of a Russian influence operation,” the correction reads. “That version also said the FBI had provided a similar warning to Rudolph W. Giuliani, which he has since disputed. This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings,” the paper said.
The original story said Giuliani was in fact. targeted.
“The FBI became aware in late 2019 that Rudolph W. Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation aimed at circulating falsehoods intended to damage President Biden politically ahead of last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter,” said the piece. “Officials planned to warn Giuliani as part of an extensive effort by the bureau to alert members of Congress and at least one conservative media outlet, One America News, that they faced a risk of being used to further Russia’s attempt to influence the election’s outcome, said several current and former U.S. officials. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter remains highly sensitive.”
The Times also corrected its erroneous report. “An earlier version of this article misstated whether Rudolph W. Giuliani received a formal warning from the F.B.I. about Russian disinformation. Mr. Giuliani did not receive such a so-called defensive briefing,” The Times wrote Saturday in a correction attached to the bottom of the story.
Meanwhile, NBC News also issued a correction, claiming its reporting was based on a single source but that a second source later refuted the information.
“An earlier version of this article included an incorrect report that Rudolph Giuliani had received a defensive briefing from the FBI in 2019 warning him that he was being targeted by a Russian influence operation,” NBC News reported. “The report was based on a source familiar with the matter, but a second source now says the briefing was only prepared for Giuliani and not delivered to him, in part over concerns it might complicate the criminal investigation of Giuliani. As a result, the premise and headline of the article below have been changed to reflect the corrected information.”