Trump surrogate and recently appointed administration official Anthony Scaramucci spoke out Thursday about a retracted CNN story that detailed his encounter with the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
“Was it fake news? I did meet with a person. I was at the World Economic Forum. I was in a restaurant. The person came over to me and shook my hand. I think a reporter snapped a picture,” Scaramucci, the newly appointed senior vice president and chief strategy officer for the Export-Import Bank, told “Fox & Friends.”
“I think the first part of the the fake news was: senior Trump official, or potential senior Trump official, meeting with somebody from the Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund,” Scaramucci continued. “But that was not a quote, unquote, meeting, planned meeting, strategic meeting, anything like that. It was really an interaction with him in a restaurant.”
Three CNN employees involved with the story resigned after the retraction, and the network reportedly changed its procedures for stories related to Russia. Even President Trump noticed.
Scaramucci called the story “scandals incorporated, where you’re practicing the politics of personal destruction as opposed to serving the American people.”
“I’m the target, but the flip side is, I also know in my heart and in my soul that I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. “So what ends up happening is if you’ve got good character and you have a strong backbone you can hold yourself up against these people and that’s exactly what I did.”
“Is that why it was important for you to get a lawyer, threaten them, say ‘I might sue’?” co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked.
“I think all of that stuff, Ainsley, was exaggerated,” Scaramucci said. “I had a couple of conversations with senior staff at CNN. I made it very clear to them that the story was not accurate and that it was a defamatory story.”
“It needed to be retracted, otherwise I think I needed to get more aggressive,” he added later, noting that he may have been able to make a defamation case against CNN. “But I didn’t go to sue them or anything like that. I think that got a little bit overblown to be honest.”
Steve Doocy noted the proposed merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. “The last thing they would need is a great big lawsuit right now,” he said.
“Certainly that’s the case, Steven,” Scaramucci said. “What I will say is that they moved quickly once they realized that they got the information wrong and hopefully this will tighten up editorial standards not just at a place like CNN, but other places.”
He added later, referring to “the Russian story,” “I think it’s a bunch of nonsense. I would like it to stop. Certainly it was nonsense related to me. It’s probably nonsense related to others.”
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