Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s campaign committee lawyer is demanding CNN retract its story claiming former President Donald Trump denied a meeting with the lawmaker amid sex trafficking allegations, the Daily Caller has learned.
CNN’s article, written by Gabby Orr, Dana Bash and Kevin Liptak on April 11, describes how Gaetz “was recently denied a meeting with” Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate “as the ex-President and his allies continue to distance themselves from the” congressman. The accusation comes as Gaetz is under federal investigation.
The story cited “two people familiar with the matter” and “Friends of Matt Gaetz Campaign Committee” lawyer Geoffrey R. Johnson slammed the network – in part for its use of anonymous sources – in a letter demanding a retraction.
“The April 11 story, like previous CNN stories about Rep. Gaetz, relies solely on anonymous sources, and propagates a false narrative that Rep. Gaetz is being isolated and abandoned by former supporters, including former-President Trump,” the Monday letter to CNN, obtained by the Daily Caller, reads.
The retraction letter continues on to accuse Orr of receiving – and failing to publish in the original story – a denial from Gaetz’s representatives prior to the article going live. Orr described the story as her “first scoop” for the network in a tweet published April 11. (RELATED: Matt Gaetz Lawyers Up With Two Prominent Criminal Defense Attorneys)
“Indeed, the use of anonymous sources has become a hallmark of CNN’s recent campaign to undermine Rep. Gaetz; however, the April 11 story reaches new depths of journalistic malice given that, in response to an email from Ms. Orr’s anonymized, private email account, representatives of Mr. Gaetz expressly denied story prior to its publication,” the letter reads. “The April 11 story, as originally published, nevertheless failed to include that denial which was sent to Ms. Orr through multiple channels, and subsequent iterations of the story gave short shrift to the denial.”
Trump also issued a statement refuting CNN’s story on April 12, calling the network “Fake News” and declaring the story to be “very dishonest.”
“Fake News CNN, relying on all anonymous sources, meaning they probably made the whole thing up, wrote a very dishonest story claiming Congressman Matt Gaetz asked for a meeting with me at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida, and was denied,” the former president said. “This is completely false.”
“Why doesn’t CNN investigate and write about lightweight Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell, who had a torrid and physical relationship with the Chinese spy Fang-Fang, but is somehow on the once-prestigious House Intelligence Committee. Swalwell, who ran for President and dropped out with a record-setting 0% in the polls, has been compromised and is a national security threat to the United States—he should be removed from the Committee immediately!” the statement continued.
CNN’s current version of the story notes that it was “updated with comment from a Trump spokesman.” The article does not include Trump’s statement. A spokesperson for Gaetz told the Caller that the network “has been given every chance to retract” its story.
“CNN has been given every chance to retract their lies about Rep. Gaetz and they have declined,” the spokesperson said. “Rep. Gaetz and President Trump have both publicly denied there was ever any attempt to schedule a meeting between them. In lieu of an apology and full retraction, this matter now rises to our legal team.”
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller.