Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., made a great mess of things Thursday when he claimed incorrectly that former national security adviser Mike Flynn was defying a congressional subpoena.
Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Flynn's counsel had informed the senators that the retired general wouldn't comply with the subpoena's order to turn over all documents related to the committees' investigation of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
"[T]hat is not a surprise to the committee. We'll figure out on General Flynn what the next step, if any, is," Burr told reporters, according to the Associated Press.
If true, this would be big news. The keywords here, however, are "if" and "true."
Burr has walked back his initial statement, and clarified Thursday afternoon that Flynn's counsel had not yet responded to the subpoena request
The senator told reporters that what he said originally "may have been premature" and that "there may be a day or two left."
"We have not gotten the definitive answer," the senator said.
Well, gee, senator, that's a long ways off from alleging the former general planned to defy a subpoena, possibly putting himself in contempt of Congress.
"Michael Flynn has not cooperated with the committee up to this point," Burr said in his clarifying comment.
He added in reference to whether he'd recommend a contempt of Congress vote if Flynn does not eventually comply, "I'm not going to go into what we might or might not do. We've got a full basket of things that we're willing to test."
The thing that's so annoying about Burr's original comments, aside from the fact that they were flat-out incorrect, is that they traveled around the world about 100 times before the truth of the matter eventually came out.
Media gave his initial remarks the heavy coverage they deserved:
"SEN. BURR: Flynn won't honor subpoena," read the AP headline.
The New York Post reported, "Michael Flynn won't honor subpoena to provide documents."
"Senate Panel Chairman: Flynn Won't Honor Subpoena," read a headline published by Fox Business.
There's much, much more where that came from.
Luckily, newsrooms have done a good job of correcting and updating their stories to reflect the senator's clarification. However, it's hard to undo the damage done by the dozens and dozens of news reports based on the senator speaking "prematurely."
Thanks, senator. With all the other bogus information out there regarding the Trump administration and Russian alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, this it what we really needed today.
This was really helpful.