Contradicted by Comey, The New York Times stands by its reporting

June 8, 2017

After re-examining its Feb. 14 article alleging contacts between members of the Trump campaign and senior Russian intelligence officials during the run-up to the election, The New York Times announced Thursday that it stands by its reporting, despite testimony to the contrary from former FBI Director James Comey.

“The New York Times has published an examination of Mr. Comey’s statements today, which reviews our previous coverage and found no evidence that any prior reporting was inaccurate,” reads a statement from The New York Times. “In fact, subsequent reporting by The Times and other media outlets has verified our reporting as the story makes clear.”

“Neither the F.B.I., nor Mr. Comey would comment or elaborate on what Mr. Comey believes to be incorrect,” it continues. “Should they provide more information, we would review that as well.”

Earlier Thursday, during his public testimony before the Senate, Comey said The New York Times report was “in the main…not true” in response to questioning from Sen. James Risch of Idaho. Comey did not say why he found fault with the article but said standard procedure among U.S. intelligence officials is not to contest inaccurate stories based on classified information.

Today’s review of New York Times reporting, by the same trio of reporters who wrote the original contested article, noted that one possible area of dispute is related to describing the foreign agents who reportedly had contact with the Trump campaign as “senior Russian intelligence officials.” Russia President Vladimir Putin’s intelligence network includes a matrix of individuals who work for the government and those that do not, which adds some ambiguity, according to the article.

But several former American intelligence and law enforcement officials have said that other American agencies have a broader definition, especially when it comes to Russia. They said that President Vladimir V. Putin uses an extensive network of government officials and private citizens with deep links to Russian spy services who supplement the intelligence apparatus and report back to the Kremlin. At least some of the contacts, they said, involved Russians who fit into this category.

The Times also notes that its stories have been matched and advanced by other news outlets, lending credence to the original report.