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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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Why are inaccurate reports like the one @KenDilanianNBC just filed so dangerous? THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE today: "NBC reports that [Mueller] plans to deliver a final report to the Justice Department by the end of February."

That's not even close to what an already wrong report said.
@KenDilanianNBC 2/ It took *1 day* for Dilanian's inaccurate report (defense lawyers for Trump allies, clearly speaking out of the self-interest of their clients, telling media anonymously that Mueller *could* finish "as soon as" February) to become *Mueller says* he *will* be done in February.
@KenDilanianNBC 3/ Ken could learn a lesson here--don't re-report claims by sources that've been wrong 7 times before; don't use any source but Mueller for info only Mueller would have--but for all its talk of self-awareness, media is not in the mood to reevaluate anything about how it operates.
@KenDilanianNBC 4/ In Proof of Collusion, a requirement I had for my nearly 2,000 citations was that none could be based on the words of a defense lawyer. Why? Because I *was* a defense lawyer, and understand that their role as zealous advocates precludes them being used as journalistic sources.
@KenDilanianNBC 5/ Another rule I had for Proof of Collusion is that I wouldn't use sources *known to have been inaccurate in the past*. It was a luxury I had because, unlike corporate media, there's no pressure on me to violate (not that I would anyway) basic journalistic standards on sourcing.
@KenDilanianNBC 6/ When I teach journalism at UNH, I emphasize how new media journalism can/must *improve and assist* conventional journalism, without replacing it. Unfortunately, we're at a point at which conventional journalists are almost universally hostile to independent digital journalism.
@KenDilanianNBC 7/ Right now we're in the midst of the biggest national emergency we've had in decades, and I'm reminded daily that there's virtually no emergency that will unsettle in even the smallest degree an established, vital, but broken system like Old Media. That's incredibly depressing.
@KenDilanianNBC 8/ But I'll tell you what I find *uplifting*: Americans are now paying much *more* attention than ever before to *how* news is collected in conventional journalistic spheres. As long as we focus on *improving* the system rather than turning away from it, we'll eventually be fine.
9/ But here's the *scary* part—and the reason I'm writing this thread: when @KenDilanianNBC took his reporting to Hardball, he *changed the report*. On Hardball, he said that *Mueller himself* had signaled to DOJ that he would be done by mid-February. That wasn't in Ken's report.
10/ I'm *very* suspicious of a journalist not putting *the most important fact he's found* in his written report, and then orally adding that fact to his reporting live on-air. I think that is so dangerous—for NBC, for viewers, for journalism generally. So this thread is needed.
11/ *If* the reporting by @KenDilanianNBC *had* been true, it would have meant that Mueller found absolutely no collusion between Trump and Russia. There is essentially no other way Mueller could issue a *complete* report in February—rather than one only on obstruction—otherwise.
12/ Prior reports said Mueller was going to indict Don Jr., Stone, Corsi, and maybe Prince—all for lying. That'd suggest he wants to roll these witnesses because current cooperators—Nader, Flynn, Gates, et al—have told him these people can help him get his ultimate target: Trump.
13/ Trump *has* to be Mueller's ultimate target, because Mueller wouldn't otherwise have cut deals with Cohen and Manafort—just below Trump in the Trump Org and Trump campaign hierarchy, respectively—and spent 130+ hours grilling them to get them to give him inculpatory evidence.
14/ So now imagine for a moment that the reporting by @KenDilanianNBC had been accurate, rather than false: it'd mean that Mueller *doesn't even plan on indicting Stone or Don Jr. or Corsi for lying*—or that if he does, he doesn't *then* plan on getting any useful info from them.
15/ If you told me today that Mueller thinks Don Jr., Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, Erik Prince, Paul Erickson and—because in Ken's reporting Mueller finds no utility in anything he got from them—Cohen and Manafort have *nothing* to offer the feds, I'd tell you there's no collusion.
16/ Yesterday a reader said I was confusing the issuance of a comprehensive final report to DOJ and the timing of future indictments. I'm not. *No comprehensive report can be written* while major indictments are pending—as those defendants could cooperate and give valuable intel.
17/ So the reason I tore apart the @KenDilanianNBC report in 28 tweets is because Ken was effectively reporting that *Trump didn't collude with Russia*, and was using unnamed administration officials and lawyers for Trump co-conspirators as his sources. See how dangerous that is?
18/ Upshot: if you believe the @KenDilanianNBC report, you believe Trump for the first time in his presidency told the truth and—despite the *mountain* of evidence to the contrary—*no one* in his orbit (including Jr., Stone, Corsi, Prince, Cohen or Manafort) colluded with Russia.
19/ The *only* "escape hatch" for believing—or *knowing*, based on the evidence—that Trump colluded with Russia *and* accepting the @KenDilanianNBC report as *broadly* accurate would be to say that Mueller will issue a *partial* report on *obstruction only* "as soon as" February.
20/ The problem: we've no evidence Mueller is inclined to *or thinks he's authorized to* issue a partial report—*and* past reports suggesting Mueller will issue a separate report on obstruction only have *all* been wrong as to timing. So yes—Ken reported "no collusion" yesterday.
21/ That's why I went through the exercise—*an an attorney, former criminal investigator, investigative journalist, journalism professor, and obsessive researcher*—of proving that the report by @KenDilanianNBC couldn't be right. It contradicts *everything* the media has reported.
22/ Moreover, it contradicts *everything* we know about criminal investigations, criminal prosecutions, criminal procedure and trial evidence. Ken's dodgy sourcing *plus* a willingness to *change his reporting on-air* is what gives me no confidence we should toss out all we know.
23/ I'd *love* for Mueller's work to end in February—it'd begin to end our long national nightmare. And I'll go further—I'd *love* for Mueller to have found *any* evidence Trump didn't know what his closest aides and advisors were doing. But I'm sorry, that's not going to happen.
24/ It's not going to happen because I know the facts of the Trump-Russia case better than Ken, and I practiced criminal law for many years. It's not going to happen because *any defense attorney* can see the way this case is going—because we've all represented people like Trump.
25/ So I ask—no, *beg*—everyone to be *incredibly careful* about sharing reports claiming to have definitive information on the timeline of Mueller's work that don't *explicitly* come from Mueller's spokesman. You might just be declaring "No collusion!" without realizing it. /end
SOURCE/ In the video below, @KenDilanianNBC changes his report in midstream from anonymous government officials and defense lawyers guessing that Mueller could conceivably finish as early as February to *Mueller himself saying he will be done in February*.
PS/ I've RTed @KenDilanianNBC before. I think he's done good work before. And I thought he seemed like a good dude, too, before I saw how he handled criticism of his reporting. My faith is shaken; a lot of people's faith is shaken. And that's a *bad thing* I wish hadn't happened.
PS2/ On Hardball, Mueller implies his government source on Mueller's timetable is in the AG's office. The problem with that: Rosenstein's never been known to leak about his oversight of the probe—and this *would* be a *major* leak. What if the source was Trump's stooge, Whitaker?
PS3/ Clarification on Tweet 15: "If you told me today...I'd tell you there's no collusion [in Mueller's view]." Absolutely nothing that happens in the future will change the fact that we already have ample evidence of collusion by Trump *and* more than a dozen of his compatriots.
PS4/ I'm also concerned about some basic factual errors I saw in Ken's interview with Chris, including Ken saying we have no evidence Stone was in contact with the Trump campaign in October 2016. Actually, we have plenty of evidence that that was the case. And the whole reason...
PS5/ charge Stone with lying is so you can flip him and get him to admit that not only was he in contact with the campaign in October 2016 but specifically *about WikiLeaks*. No report could *possibly* be written until Mueller has *indicted* Stone *and* made that squeeze.
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