In September, the FBI set up a meeting with New York Times writer Eric Lichtblau. The bureau had heard from one of Lichtblau’s sources that the Times was writing a story about the connections between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. Worried that the story would interfere with their own investigation of ties they’d discovered between Russia and the Trump campaign, they asked him to delay it.
Lichtblau’s editor, Dean Baquet, seemed less interested in the story as the election grew closer. Lichtblau thought the story was more important than ever because it became a story about the FBI investigating Trump. Baquet wanted more evidence.
After a heated debate between the writer and editor, the story almost never made it to print… until Harry Reid wrote a letter exposing FBI Director James Comey for intentionally holding on to evidence of Trump-Russia ties.
The story is published the next day, October 31st. But it isn’t Lichtblau’s story. Baquet had it rewritten to exonerate Trump.
In coming months, F.B.I. officials publicly criticize the article for misleading readers about the investigation, and Eric Lichtblau leaves The New York Times.
Baquet spends the next four years applauding himself for his hard, honest reporting during the election.
Hiding In Plain Sight by Sarah Kendzior, p. 182-183
Photo: Sarah Gilbert