NBC News mischaracterized remarks by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to suggest President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin strategized about his administration's reaction to Democratic investigations.
Trump tweeted Friday that he and Putin had discussed "the ‘Russian Hoax'" during their call, but initially didn't go into detail. NBC News soon reported however that Sanders revealed that they had discussed whether a key White House witness on the question of obstruction should testify before Congress.
"Sanders said that the two leaders discussed whether the administration would allow former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before Congress as Democrats ramp up their oversight investigations into the administration," the report initially read. "McGahn was a key witness in one of the 10 episodes of potential obstruction of justice by Trump Mueller outlined in the report."
But when other reporters began tweeting about the exchange, White House correspondents who were also present at the press conference (including NBC's own Kelly O'Donnell) disputed that account, reporting that Sander's answers on McGahn were completely unrelated to her answers on the Trump-Putin call.
During the gaggle? The only Q on McGahn that I heard was:
Q: "Has the White House formally instructed Don McGahn not to comply with congressional requests?"
Sanders: "Ah, I'm not aware of a formal conversation on that front." https://t.co/cAjEaPoml2
— Jill Colvin (@colvinj) May 3, 2019
Just to be clear:@PressSec responded to reporter question about whether former WH Counsel McGahn has been told not to testify before Congress. (Unrelated issue to Trump-Putin phone call) https://t.co/P7u939MwvL
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) May 3, 2019
That paragraph has been updated. It now reads: "Sanders also answered a question about whether White House counsel Don McGahn would testify before Congress as Democrats ramp up their oversight investigations into the administration. McGahn was a key witness in one of the 10 episodes of potential obstruction of justice by Trump that Mueller outlined in the report."
The piece was later updated with a correction:
An earlier version of this article incorrectly included one topic that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Presidents Trump and Putin discussed on Friday. They did not discuss the possibility of former White House counsel Don McGahn appearing before Congress. Sanders was answering a question from reporters about whether McGahn would testify before Congress.