CNN Adds Major Update To Michael Cohen Story

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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CNN has bungled another story that was based on leaks the network received while a House Intelligence Committee witness was testifying behind closed doors.

CNN reported Wednesday that Michael Cohen provided documents during a House Intelligence deposition showing that President Donald Trump’s Russia lawyers made edits to false testimony the former Trump fixer gave to Congress in 2017.

Cohen said in a public House Oversight Committee hearing last week that one of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, made changes to the testimony.

“There were changes made, additions — Jay Sekulow, for one,” Cohen said. “There were several changes that were made including how we were going to handle that message, which was — the message of course being — the length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation on Nov. 29 to making several false statements in his House and Senate Intelligence testimony, including that he ended negotiations to build a Trump Tower Moscow in January 2016. Instead, Cohen continued working on the project through June 2016. (RELATED: The List Of CNN’s Bungled Reports Is A Sight To Behold)

CNN’s initial report raised the possibility that Trump’s lawyers suborned perjury from Cohen, who will begin a three-year prison term on May 6.

But CNN ran an update at 7:35 p.m. Eastern time that drastically changed the implications for its story.

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, told CNN that Cohen himself, and not a Trump lawyer, claimed in a draft of his 2017 testimony that the Trump Tower negotiations ended in January 2016.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, leaves after he testified before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. Last year Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful excessive campaign contributions and lying to Congress as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, leaves after he testified before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill on Feb. 27, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Cohen’s lawyer at the time of his initial testimony, Stephen Ryan, helped him edit the document, according to CNN’s update. Ryan shared the draft with other lawyers who were party to a joint defense agreement with Cohen. Those lawyers provided suggested changes, which Cohen and Ryan approved, CNN’s sources said.

The lawyers involved in editing Cohen’s testimony had no indication the initial draft had inaccurate information, according to the updated report.

This is not the first time CNN has published a story in the midst of closed-door House Intelligence testimony that turned out to be wrong.

The same two reporters who worked on the Cohen story reported on Dec. 8, 2017 that Donald Trump Jr. received an email on Sept. 4, 2016 containing a link to a batch of WikiLeaks documents. The story was considered a bombshell because the WikiLeaks emails had not been made public when Trump Jr. purportedly received the email.

But hours later, Trump Jr.’s lawyer released the actual email, which showed that Trump Jr. received the document on Sept. 14, 2016, a day after WikiLeaks published the documents linked in the email.

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