90 Miles From Tyranny : 7 Ways The Mueller Report Exposed The Media’s ‘Bombshell’ Fake News Stories

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Friday, April 19, 2019

7 Ways The Mueller Report Exposed The Media’s ‘Bombshell’ Fake News Stories

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, some of the conclusions debunkedmany misleading, and anonymously sourced, conspiracy theories.

After two and a half years of countless mainstream media “scoops” and “bombshells” that turned out to be false or nonexistent, the American people finally have some concrete answers on Russiagate. When Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Thursday, some of the investigation’s conclusions debunked once and for all many misleading, and anonymously sourced, conspiracy theories.

Here are some of the most prominent stories the press got wrong about the Russian collusion narrative.

1. Michael Cohen Never Went To Prague

The infamous Christopher Steele dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, alleged that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Federation Council foreign affairs head Konstantin Kosachev in Prague. Desperately wanting to confirm this, news outlets sent reporters to hotels all over Prague checking hotel logs.

In April 2018, McClatchy reported Mueller had obtained evidence of Cohen’s visit to the Czech Republic, according to two anonymous sources. In December 2018, they reported that Cohen’s cell phone, or a device registered to him, was pinged off towers near Prague.

The Mueller report debunked this piece of the dossier once and for all when the special counsel wrote, “Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false.” McClatchy has now added a two sentence editor’s note to their two reports on Cohen.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Mueller’s report to the attorney general states that Mr. Cohen was not in Prague. It is silent on whether the investigation received evidence that Mr. Cohen’s phone pinged in or near Prague, as McClatchy reported.

2. Carter Page Was Not a Russian Agent

Carter Page was the main link between the Trump campaign and Russia. He was a one-time foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, has spent time in Russia, and has many contacts with the foreign adversary. The dubious Steele dossier alleged that Page held secret meetings with allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trips to Moscow.

These connections are perhaps the only evidence presented by the media who were convinced Page was a Russian spy (and the only evidence used by the FBI to seek a surveillance warrant against Page, but I digress).

Mueller finally put this myth to rest in his report, asserting they found no evidence Page coordinated with Russia on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Russian intelligence officials had formed relationships with Page in 2008 and 2013 and Russian officials may have focused on Page in 2016 because of his affiliation with the Campaign. However, the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

3. Donald Trump Did Not Direct Cohen to Lie to Congress

In January 2019, BuzzFeed News dropped what was supposed to be “bombshell” report, alleging that Trump had directed Cohen to lie to Congress about a potential real estate deal in Moscow. They also reported that Mueller’s office had evidence of these alleged lies.

The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.

In February, Cohen told Congress under oath that the president never directed him to lie, and now the Mueller report is confirming the contrary report as false:

Cohen said that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen’s testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false, and the President did not direct him to provide false testimony. Cohen also said he did not tell the President about the specifics of his planned testimony.

4. Cohen’s Call With a Russian Did Not Prove Collusion

In November 2018, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes reported on live television that “The President was compromised by a hostile foreign government, full stop.” Hayes proposed this was the only conclusion to take from Cohen’s admission that he lied to Congress.

The Mueller report investigated Cohen’s phone call with a personal assistant to a Russian official, and found no evidence that they ever followed up or acted on that initial phone call about a Trump Tower in Moscow.

“Cohen could not recall any direct follow-up from Poliakova or from any other representative of the Russian government, nor did the Office identify any evidence of direct follow-up,” the Mueller report concluded.

5. Paul Manafort Was Not Funneling Polling Data to Putin

Many reporters used Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s past business dealings in Russia to prove he was a Russian stooge, but one reporter...

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