Faulty reporting by a former Obama administration staffer turned CNN anchor imperiled the life of an alleged CIA source who was reportedly extracted from Russia just before President Trump took office, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer asserted Tuesday.
The reporting by Jim Sciutto, a co-anchor of "CNN Newsroom," was later contradicted by the CIA, Spicer said on "Hannity."
"They put this individual who went against his own country to provide the United States with actual intelligence — they put his life in jeopardy," Spicer said. "Jim Sciutto, the reporter, who served in the Obama administration, tried to pin responsibility on this operative being taken out of Russia and brought here on President Trump. The CIA clarified that it was not President Trump, it was that this asset needed to be extracted."
Spicer added that CNN refused to admit apparent fault but instead simply adjusted its reporting after The New York Times covered the story.
"They didn't apologize to their viewers, they didn't apologize to President Trump," Spicer said. "They pivoted and moved on."
On Monday, the CIA slammed what it called CNN's "misguided" and "simply false" reporting, after Sciutto — the cable channel's chief national security correspondent — authored a hole-filled piece claiming the CIA had pulled a high-level spy out of Russia because President Trump had "repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy."
The extraordinary CIA rebuke came as The New York Times published a bombshell piece later in the evening that largely contradicted CNN's reporting. According to the Times, CIA officials "made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia" — weeks before Trump even took office.
Concerns about media reporting on Russian election interference drove the decision, according to the Times, which described the source as "the American government’s best insight into the thinking of and orders” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Former intelligence officials said there was no public evidence that Mr. Trump directly endangered the source, and other current American officials insisted that media scrutiny of the agency’s sources alone was the impetus for the extraction," the Times wrote.
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.