New York Times editor changes FBI’s Russia story to cover for Trump

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


Related Topics

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.

“We had a window,” Lichtblau said. His story about Alfa Bank ran the next day. But it bore only a modest resemblance to what he had filed. The headline… seemed to exonerate the Trump campaign. And, though the article mentioned the server, it omitted any reference to the computer scientists who had told Lichtblau that the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank might have been communicating. “We were saying that the investigation was basically over—and it was just beginning,” Lichtblau told me.

The New Yorker

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

Get More Trump Secrets in Your Inbox


Related Topics

Also On Trump File