CNN Forced to Correct 2017 Manafort Bombshell Following IG Report

December 10, 2019

CNN amended a 2017 article claiming the FBI wiretapped former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort after the Justice Department released a report refuting the story.

"On December 9, 2019, the Justice Department Inspector General released a report regarding the opening of the investigation on Russian election interference and Donald Trump's campaign," reads the Monday editor's note. "In the report, the IG contradicts what CNN was told in 2017, noting that the FBI team overseeing the investigation did not seek FISA surveillance of Paul Manafort."

The original report from CNN journalists Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Pamela Brown went into great detail about the supposed FBI wiretapping of Manafort. The journalists wrote that it began in 2014, ended in 2016 for lack of evidence, and then was restarted in 2017 after investigators obtained a new FISA warrant.

The CNN report was widely cited by both opponents and supporters of President Trump when it was released. Rep. Ted Lieu (D., Calif.) claimed it was evidence the former Trump campaign chief was an "agent of foreign power," while Trump supporters claimed it vindicated the president's claim that he had been wiretapped by the Obama administration. Manafort was arrested a month after the CNN report and eventually convicted of financial crimes unrelated to his work on the Trump campaign.

CNN's claims were directly contradicted by inspector general Michael Horowitz's report, which said the FBI's Russia investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, "did not seek FISA surveillance of Manafort." The report further states "we are aware of no information indicating that the Crossfire Hurricane team requested or seriously considered FISA surveillance of Manafort."

The editor's note is not the first time CNN walked back a bombshell report that was contradicted by official sources. CNN reported in June 2017 that former FBI director James Comey would contradict President Trump's claim that Comey had told him he was not under investigation. The network was forced to issue a correction a day later when Comey testified before Congress that he gave Trump that assurance three times.