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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

What did BuzzFeed do?

CNN published a carefully reported story Tuesday on intelligence officials warning Trump and Obama that Russians were trying to compromise Trump. The basis of this was a 35-page dossier alleging Trump did weird sex things and alleged his inner circle had been colluding with Russia. CNN didn't publish that dossier, because they couldn't confirm the details.

BuzzFeed also had the dossier, and they published it.

Is this normal?

No. BuzzFeed admitted it wasn't able to confirm many of the details, and that it contained obvious errors. In a note to staff, editor-in-chief Ben Smith defended that decision, saying the public had the right to know.

What happened next?

  • Journalists were quick to condemn BuzzFeed, saying it gives Trump's team credence to discredit other reports.
  • Trump got into the mix as well, calling BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage."
  • Even CNN, which had published a story on Tuesday using the same source material as BuzzFeed, distanced itself, saying it wouldn't have published the unverified information.

And a key part of the story fell apart:

A central item of the dossier alleged that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen went to Prague last year to meet with Russian spies. That proved to be wrong, as CNN reported Wednesday.

Here's where it gets messy: U.S. Senator John McCain also published a statement Wednesday morning saying he received this information last year and delivered it to FBI Director James Comey.

What's next: Journalists and Democrats will have questions for former FBI Director Comey about why he sat on unverified reports about Trump's relationship with Russia, but wrote to Congress about reopening a case around Clinton's email scandal that revealed nothing new shortly before the election.

Go deeper

Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

The walls close in on Trump

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

With Bill Barr's "Et tu, Brute!" interview with AP, President Trump is watching the walls close in on his claims of fraud, hoaxes and conspiracies.

Why it matters: Trump and his legal team continue to claim election fraud. But the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia have certified their elections, a loyalist like Barr has weighed in, and lower-ranking officials have taken potshots.

Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

oving crates outside Rep. Elise Stefanik's old office Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.

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