This post has been extensively updated since it was published to reflect the subsequent retraction of CNN’s story.
CNN late Friday retracted an article reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into a $10 billion Russian investment fund managed by a Kremlin-run bank tied to several Trump associates.
The original story focused on a Jan. 16 meeting between the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is overseen by the state-run Vnesheconombank, and Anthony Scaramucci, Trump campaign adviser and member of the transition team’s executive committee. It asserted that congressional investigators were looking into whether Scaramucci and the fund’s chief executive, Kirill Dmitriev, discussed lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia during that conversation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Some 24 hours later, the story, which was based on one anonymous “congressional source,” was pulled from CNN’s site. In its place was an editor’s note and an apology to Scaramucci.
“On June 22, 2017, CNN.com published a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci with investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund,” the note read. “That story did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci.”
Scaramucci retweeted that statement, along with a note expressing appreciation for the network’s “classy” response.
.@CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on. https://t.co/lyVajCKNHx
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) June 24, 2017
Internally, the backlash from the botched story apparently prompted a firestorm. BuzzFeed published an internal memo that CNNMoney executive editor Rich Barbieri sent to staff imposing rigid publishing guidelines for any articles “involving Russia.” Any that do must now be run past both Barbieri and Jason Farkas, a CNN vice president, according to to the memo.
An anonymous source close to CNN told BuzzFeed that the story was a “massive, massive fuck up,” and that the network was conducting an internal investigation to determine how it ended up published.
The editor’s note does not specify what parts of the story were incorrect or required retraction. Scaramucci acknowledged to CNN in the original story that he had a brief encounter with Dmietriev at a restaurant in Davos, but told the news outlet there was “nothing there.”
Vnesheconombank and the fund it oversees have been under U.S. sanction since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Both congressional and federal investigators are known to be looking into a meeting Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had with the bank’s CEO in December.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported that federal investigators are looking into all interactions between Trump, his associates and Vnesheconombank as they try to root out any inappropriate contacts between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign.