On Tuesday of this week CNN published an article about what has since come to be known as peegate*. The most damning allegation repeated in the CNN article is that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russian intelligence:
The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.
CNN took an absurd line here, claiming that the allegations were credible enough to be newsworthy, while at the same time declining to release the details of the allegations because they had not been vetted by CNN. This angle gave CNN a shield to hide behind while dishing dirt, and at the same time made it exceptionally difficult to disprove the allegations. From an early archive of the CNN article (emphasis mine):
CNN has reviewed a 35-page compilation of the memos, from which the two-page synopsis was drawn. The memos originated as opposition research, first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats. At this point, CNN is not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations. But, in preparing this story, CNN has spoken to multiple high ranking intelligence, administration, congressional and law enforcement officials, as well as foreign officials and others in the private sector with direct knowledge of the memos.
Some of the memos were circulating as far back as last summer. What has changed since then is that US intelligence agencies have now checked out the former British intelligence operative and his vast network throughout Europe and find him and his sources to be credible enough to include some of the information in the presentations to the President and President-elect a few days ago.
Unfortunately for CNN, Buzzfeed responded to CNN’s report by publishing the 35 page memo. This gave Trump’s team something other than vague whispers to respond to, and very quickly his team was able to prove that the memo’s alleged meeting between Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Kremlin officials could not have taken place. The meeting was alleged to have occurred in Prague in August of 2016. From page 18 of the memo:
Cohen was able to prove that he couldn’t possibly have been in Prague when this meeting is alleged to have occurred. This is crucial, because again the most damning allegation CNN was repeating in their original article was that Trump’s team colluded with the Kremlin during the campaign.
But this is where the story gets more bizarre, and even more embarrassing for CNN. Jake Tapper, one of the original authors of the CNN story, responded to this claim being debunked by explaining that it was another Michael Cohen who was in Prague at that time. Brietbart quotes Tapper:
“It was a Michael Cohen with a passport from another country, same birth year [as Trump’s counsel], different birth date. So for Michael Cohen to dispute that he was in the Czech Republic completely confirms with our reporting.”
This cringe-worthy attempt to spin the story falling apart is even worse than Tapper’s original article. That another man named Michael Cohen was in Prague when Trump’s Cohen is accused of colluding with the Kremlin is totally irrelevant. The man being accused wasn’t there, so the accusation has been disproved. How in the world can the accusation being disproved confirm his reporting? Tapper reported that the two page summary (derived from the 35 page memo) claimed that Trump’s team was colluding with the Kremlin. Once the specifics of this alleged meeting were debunked, Tapper pretends this was not about Trump’s Cohen, but some other man by the same name, apparently with no relation to President-elect Trump.