Three CNN staffers have resigned following the publication and subsequent retraction of a story linking a Trump transition team member to the Russia-related investigations.
The piece, published late last week, cited an anonymous source saying the Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into the chief executive of a $10-billion Russian investment fund who met with financier Anthony Scaramucci before the inauguration.
The reporter, Pulitzer-prize nominee Thomas Frank, assistant managing editor Eric Lichtblau (who recently joined from the New York Times) and Lex Haris, the executive editor in charge of investigations, are all out.
"In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication," CNN said in a statement.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Scaramucci called the CNN reporter and then Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist on Friday after the story posted, and alluded to the possibility of a lawsuit if the piece was not taken down.
By Friday night the piece was retracted with an editor’s note appended, saying in part that the "story did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci."
Scaramucci has publicly expressed his appreciation, tweeting on Saturday that "CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on."
CNN already had processes in place for anonymous sources, requiring sign off by an executive editor before publication. Now extra restrictions are being placed on stories connected to Russia, according to a leaked memo published by BuzzFeed on Sunday, requiring further scrutiny by higher-ups.