‘Team of Vipers’ Reveals CNN Printed Unsubstantiated Dirt on Sarah Sanders to Settle Ex-Trump Aide’s Score

An excerpt from former West Wing official Cliff Sims’ new book — provided exclusively to Breitbart News ahead of the book’s public release on Monday — shows how CNN’s Jim Acosta peddled unsubstantiated misinformation from a disgruntled ex-Trump campaign aide about White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders as part of the network’s effort to push the Stormy Daniels scandal story.

In other words, Sims’ book reveals that CNN pushed out an attack on a current Trump aide by an ex-Trump aide — providing the ex-Trump aide with anonymity to shield the person’s identity — and did not verify whether it was actually true before CNN printed it.

Sims’ new book Team of Vipers: My Extraordinary 500 Days in the Trump White House is out on Monday and has already created a lot of waves with revelations about disloyalty to Trump from senior White House officials like current senior official Kellyanne Conway and former Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Sims also detailed how Trump summoned him to a secret meeting with just the two of them in which he assisted the president in the creation of two lists of aides written in sharpie on official card stock: One list of those he could trust and another of so-called “sleeper cells,” or people suspected of leaking or undermining his administration. Now, this revelation about Acosta and CNN pushing unverified hits on Sanders in order to help other ex-Trump aides settle their own scores comes just before the book’s public release on Monday morning and just after Acosta announced he is writing a book of his own.

“In March 2018, I got a text from my comms team colleague Steven Cheung,” Sims writes in Team of Vipers:

“We need to pay attention to CNN, because I think something bad might be about to happen,” he said. I joked that such a statement could apply to almost any moment. But in this particular instance, Cheung explained that one of our former campaign colleagues was mad at Sarah Sanders—he wasn’t entirely clear why—and was sending Cheung cryptic texts that he “had something coming for her on CNN.” Sure enough, an article popped up on CNN’s website shortly thereafter with the headline “Trump Upset with Sanders.”

The article was bylined by Acosta and another CNN reporter Veronica Stracqualursi and lists two others at the bottom of the piece — Kevin Liptak and Jeff Zeleny — as having contributed to the piece’s reporting. The piece is single-sourced to make the main accusation in the headline and story.

“Trump upset with Sanders over Stormy Daniels response,” the headline still reads on CNN.

The lead sentence in the story says that the president was “upset with” Sanders over how she handled a press briefing on Daniels, attributing that to a “source close to the White House.”

The quote from the “source close to the White House” appears later in the story: “POTUS is very unhappy. Sarah gave the Stormy Daniels storyline steroids yesterday.”

The accusation was not just posted online on CNN’s website but on television as well.

“Acosta then went out on TV and dramatically described the deteriorating relationship be­ tween the President and his once­-beloved Press Secretary,” Sims writes.

But, now, with Sims’ revelations in his book, it appears as though Acosta and the other CNN personnel involved in publishing this story were simply allowing themselves to settle a score for a disgruntled person who used to work for the campaign rather than accurately reporting the president’s views on Sanders’ handling of Stormy Daniels questions. It is unclear which editors were involved as CNN regularly refuses to be transparent with its audience on such matters, but the two reporters on the byline and the other two listed as contributing reporting are four senior CNN editorial staffers.

While Sims does not name the former campaign official who spoke with CNN on this — CNN does not even mention in its story it was a former campaign official — he knows who it was and knows that this person has no idea what the president is actually thinking.

“All of this, of course, was based on a single anonymous source. But unlike the public, we knew this source went around town convincing people—journalists and clients alike—that he maintained a close relationship with the President,” Sims writes. “In reality, Trump couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup. He had completely made up the story about the President being mad at Sarah. Acosta had run the single­-sourced story, apparently unconcerned about whether it was true or not. And that’s how your CNN news was programmed for the day.”

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