Naturally, Lake wanted to speak with Nunes again, after the New York Times report. Here's how the conversation went, according to Lake:
The chairman told me Thursday that elements of the Times story were inaccurate. But he acknowledged: “I did use the White House to help to confirm what I already knew from other sources.”
Translation: I didn't really lie to you, Eli, because the White House wasn't the source — as in my first or only source. It was just a source. A source that merely confirmed some things.
This is a very delicate dance around the definition of truth. Lake didn't write that Nunes lied to him. “He misled me,” Lake wrote.
Appearing on CNN Friday afternoon, Lake expressed the same sentiment about Nunes's attempt to distinguish between providing information and confirming information.
“At that point, I think it’s parsing,” he said.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sean Spicer wore his tap shoes to Thursday's media briefing, where he refused to confirm or deny the Times report. Some highlights:
- “To comment on that story would be to validate certain things that I am not at liberty to do.”
- “Respectfully, I think your question assumes that the reporting is correct.”
- “We are not going to start commenting on one-off anonymous sources that publications publish.”
- “I’m not going to get into it.”
- “If I start going down the path of confirming and denying one thing, that we’re going down a very slippery slope.”
Spicer does, of course, deny news reports — quite frequently, actually. On Thursday, however, he was suddenly wary of “a very slippery slope.”
The White House and Nunes have repeatedly accused the press of hunting for incriminating information where there is none. What they apparently fail to understand is that obfuscation only makes reporters more suspicious that there's something to hide.