Is the CNN Report Misleading?

by Rich Lowry

I buy the distinction between CNN, which was reporting on a briefing of Trump that allegedly included a summary of the infamous dossier, and Buzzfeed, which just dumped out the dossier. But this NBC report suggests that there is much less than meets the eye to that CNN report:

President-elect Donald Trump was not told about unverified reports that Russia has compromising information on him during last week’s intelligence briefing, according to a senior intelligence official with knowledge of preparations for the briefing.

A summary of the unverified reports was prepared as background material for the briefing, but not discussed during the meeting, the official said. During Trump’s press conference Wednesday morning, the president-elect said he was made aware of the information “outside that meeting.”

NBC portrays the summary as a kind of exemplary exercise in different kinds of intelligence:

Two U.S. officials  last week’s intelligence briefing included damaging allegations from the dossier — unverified by American intelligence agencies — about his dealings with the Russians.

Officials prepared a two-page summary of the dossier for Trump’s briefing Friday at Trump Tower in New York.

Multiple officials say that the summary was included in the material prepared for the briefers, but the senior official told NBC News that the briefing was oral and no actual documents were left with the Trump team in New York. During the briefing, the president-elect was not briefed on the contents of the summary .

“Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Trump and the Russian government period,” the senior official said.

According to the senior official, the two-page summary about the unsubstantiated material made available to the briefers was to provide context, should they need it, to draw the distinction for Trump between analyzed intelligence and unvetted “disinformation.”

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