A Thursday evening CNN panel erupted into chaos when a Florida law professor and “constitutional originalist” asserted a false claim about CNN’s coverage of wiretap warrants for aides to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Host Anderson Cooper asked Florida International University constitutional law professor Elizabeth Foley if contentious campaign aide George Papadopoulos informing other members of the campaign team that Russians had supposed “dirt” on Trump’s opponent would open them up to legal problems — and the professor’s response was telling.
“No, I mean, unless you’re going to be lying to investigators, there’s no evidence of any of that,” Foley said. She later admitted that investigators did in fact get Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI.
“All Papadopoulos did, apparently, was have some conversations with a woman who called herself the niece of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and he apparently doesn’t have a niece, and some professor at a Scottish university who was based out of London who told him that he had some dirt through his friends in Russia on [Hillary] Clinton,” she said.
“But, you know, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having conversations with Russians, even Russians that may have dirt on your opponent in a presidential campaign,” Foley said.
It was when she suggested that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for Carter Page, another Trump campaign aide, was based on intel from the “golden showers” dossier, however, that panelists Jeffrey Toobin, Nixon White House counsel John Dean and Cooper himself erupted in protest.
“You have no proof of that!” Cooper said.
“You don’t know that!” Toobin echoed, while Dean shook his head in protest.
“That’s what [fired FBI Director] Jim Comey has suggested,” the professor said. “That’s what CNN reported in April .”
“I‘ll double check this, professor, but I don’t believe that we reported that that was the basis for this,” Cooper responded, “but i’ll double check it.”
Later in the segment, Cooper did fact-check Foley’s claim, and found that although the FBI did use the dossier “in part” to obtain the FISA warrant for Page, they only did so after corroborating parts of the contested dossier through their own investigation.
Watch the testy interview and Cooper’s fact-check below, via CNN.
Panel discussion with Professor Foley: