“All the time, but especially in heated election on a topic this explosive, every word matters, no matter how well-sourced,” Baier said on Fox’s “Happening Now.”
Suggesting the inquiry would end in an indictment was a “mistake,” Baier said, “and for that I’m sorry.”
In his initial Wednesday report, the Fox anchor said two sources “with intimate knowledge” of the FBI’s inquiry into the foundation found “a lot of evidence” suggesting that donors received favors from Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Baier said his sources told him the investigation would "likely" end in an indictment, “barring some obstruction.”
Though other major outlets, including The New York Times, NBC News and ABC News, reported that there was little to the Clinton Foundation inquiry, Baier’s story was picked up by conservative news sites and even repeated on the stump by Donald Trump. The Republican nominee and many of those outlets falsely attributed the information to “FBI agents.”
Baier walked the report back somewhat on Thursday, saying he'd spoken “inartfully” and wanted to be “clear” that a prosecutor is responsible for determining whether seeking an indictment is warranted.
Yet on Friday morning, Trump’s surrogates brushed away questions about promoting the baseless story.
“The damage is done to Hillary Clinton,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said.
Baier took to the air hours later to belatedly set the record straight.
The indictment comment wasn’t just “inartful, it was a mistake, and for that I'm sorry," he said.
“I should have said, 'They will continue to build their case,'” Baier continued. “Indictment obviously is a very loaded word, Jon, especially in this atmosphere, and no one knows if there would or would not be an indictment no matter how strong investigators feel their evidence is. It is obviously a prosecutor who has to agree to take the case and make that case to a grand jury.”
In addition, the Fox anchor acknowledged there are “still no digital fingerprints” to support another claim he made in Wednesday's report that Clinton’s private email server had been hacked by five foreign intelligence agencies.
Watch Baier’s comments below:
Here is my 11am live shot --about the Clinton investigations and my reporting of them. https://t.co/8wAzzkDiy3
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) November 4, 2016