CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Donald Trump, went toe-to-toe Wednesday over the network’s report that top intelligence officials recently presented the president-elect with a summary of allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising material about him.
In a contentious exchange on Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper called out the Trump team for inaccurately asserting that CNN reported unverified claims that were referenced in the two-page synopsis. “That’s simply not true,” Cooper said.
In fact, it was BuzzFeed that published a 35-page document carrying the unsubstantiated claims, following CNN’s initial report.
Pressing Conway, Cooper said, “Do you acknowledge here and now that CNN did not release the 35-page unsubstantiated claims against Donald Trump, and it was misleading and untrue for [incoming press secretary] Sean Spicer to suggest otherwise?”
In one of several prevaricating responses, Conway insisted Spicer was “exactly right” and added, “CNN went first yesterday and BuzzFeed went second.”
“We didn’t report what Buzzfeed reported,” Cooper shot back.
“I didn’t say that you did,” Conway said, “but you linked to it in your story.” (According to Jim Sciutto, one of the four reporters on the CNN story, they did not link to BuzzFeed.)
Elsewhere in the conversation, Cooper asked Conway if she was denying that there was a two-page summary presented to Trump. She responded that she wasn’t present in the briefing.
“What you’re saying doesn’t make sense,” Cooper said. “On the one hand, you’re saying our reporting is inaccurate. On the other hand, you’re saying you don’t know if it was in the intelligence briefing, and you can’t say even if you did know. Right?”
“I can tell you that credible news reports today say that it was not in there,” Conway replied.
Conway’s appearance came a day after a similarly heated conversation on Late Night With Seth Meyers, and hours after Trump himself dismissed CNN and others outlets’ reports as “phony stuff” in his first press conference in six months.
Watch a portion of Cooper and Conway’s exchange in the video above.