RNC -- Chris Hayes’s Cancel Culture Strawman

MSNBC on TV (Tony Webster via Wikimedia)

MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin, who spread Christopher Steele’s now-debunked Moscow “pee-tape” and Michael Cohen-Prague stories to his large Twitter following, is now holding himself out as an authority on “disinformation,” warning journalists not to share a New York Post story which revealed that Hunter Biden attempted to arrange a meeting between his father and a Burisma oil executive.

“No one should link to or share that NY Post ‘report’,” Griffin said of the Post’s story, adding that it has “obvious flaws and unanswerable questions” and warning against “amplifying what appears to be disinformation.”

The story, published Thursday morning, reveals an April 2015 email between Hunter Biden and Burisma adviser Vadym Pozharskiy in which Pozharskiy thanked the younger Biden “for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father.”

The email was provided to the Post by Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and attorney to President Trump, after it was recovered with other documents from a laptop computer dropped off at a repair shop in Delaware in April 2019. The laptop was never picked up by its owner and was eventually seized by the FBI after a repairman reported it.

Griffin came to the conclusion that the Post’s reporting constitutes “disinformation” just hours after it was published and before Biden offered a response (the Biden campaign later said the meeting between Pozharskiy and Biden never took place, but did not challenge the veracity of the emails). But his sudden interest in combatting “disinformation” does not square with his own record.

He didn’t display the same level of scrutiny when sharing a Post report on claims from James Comey about the infamous Trump “pee tape.” Though Comey claimed the tape could be real, the Mueller probe found no evidence of it and the FBI learned it was suspected disinformation sowed by Russian intelligence.

Comey said in his book that, in January 2017, President Trump asked him to investigate Christopher Steele’s dossier claim that the Kremlin had a compromising tape of Trump paying prostitutes to pee on him in in 2013 in a Moscow Ritz-Carlton suite once occupied by President Obama.

“He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him,” Comey wrote.

The next day, Comey told ABC that “it’s possible” that Steele’s Moscow story was real.

“I honestly never thought this words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013,” Comey said in an interview. “It’s possible, but I don’t know.”

Two hours after sharing the Post’s “pee tape” coverage, Griffin continued to hype the story to his more than 900,000 followers.

Two years later, Griffin, who spends every working day tweeting constantly, neglected to share with his followers an unredacted footnote which revealed that, as early as 2017, the FBI learned of reports “indicating the potential for Russian disinformation influencing Steele’s election reporting,” including the “pee tape” allegation.

“A [redacted] report dated [redacted] 2017, contained information about an individual with reported connections to Trump and Russia who claimed that the public reporting about the details of Trump’s activities in Moscow during a trip in 2013 were false, and that they were the product of [the Russian Intelligence Service] ‘infiltrat[ing] a source into the network,’ of a [redacted] who compiled a dossier of information on Trump’s activities,” the footnote — from DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report into the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation — states.

Besides the so-called “pee tape,” Griffin also pushed Steele’s claims that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Russian contacts, including that Robert Mueller had “evidence” of such a meeting. But when Mueller’s report finally emerged, it stated that “Cohen had never traveled to Prague.”

The Horowitz report went further, detailing how “the FBI eventually concluded that these allegations against Cohen and the ‘Trump team’ were not true” and that Steele’s suspected source for the allegation later told the FBI that “whatever information in the Steele reports that was attributable to him/her had been ‘exaggerated.’” The New York Times also reported that “Mr. Cohen’s financial records and C.I.A. queries to foreign intelligence services revealed nothing to support” the Cohen-Prague claim.

And the DOJ revealed last month that Steele’s source, Igor Danchenko, was himself the subject of a previous FBI investigation based on his alleged efforts to co-opt Obama administration officials into advancing policies friendly to the Kremlin.

In other words, Steele was feeding the FBI information provided to him by someone the FBI had reason to believe was a Russian spy. That story also conveniently escaped Griffin’s attention despite his deep concern about preventing the spread of “disinformation.”

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