Top Democrats on Tuesday accidentally cited a widely-circulated tweet from an account masquerading as Michael Flynn.
Flynn resigned as national security adviser on Monday night after just 24 days on the job, the shortest tenure anyone has ever served in the role, amid revelations that he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition period, and may be susceptible to foreign blackmail.
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The New York Times initially reported tweets from a fake Flynn Twitter account which claimed that he was a "scapegoat" for the administration. The newspaper later apologized for the mistake in an editor's note.
During a press conference on Tuesday calling for further investigations into the White House's relationship with Russia, Rep. Elijah Cummings repeated the scapegoat tweet.
"Just this morning, Flynn tweeted — and this is a quote — 'scapegoat.' End of quote. Scapegoat. He basically described himself as a scapegoat. And so I believe we need to hold a public hearing with Flynn to get to the bottom of this," Cummings said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi then followed, saying that the "questions that arise" from Flynn's resignation are "even bigger."
"I didn't know until I heard from our colleague that the tweet was scapegoat," Pelosi said.
She added: "The inference to be drawn from his statement is other people have blame that should be shared in all of this."
The leaders' staff both quickly realized the tweets were fake.
A House Democratic staffer told Business Insider that Cummings' staff initially showed the congressman the news reports with errors, but immediately alerted the congressman once they realized the tweets weren't real.
Pelosi also appeared to learn during the press conference that she had the wrong information.
Aide tells Pelosi the "scapegoat" Flynn tweet was fake, "what do you mean it's fake?" She says. pic.twitter.com/tLNQswqfpb
— Ema BOO'Connor (@o_ema) February 14, 2017
"We will have a correction in our transcript," Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said in an email. "Mr. Cummings brought this up and Leader Pelosi was repeating what he said. This was not in the Leader's prepared remarks."
The slip-up came after Democrats in both chambers called for extensive investigations into Flynn's relationship with Russia, as well as the country's meddling in the 2016 election.
During his statement, Cummings slammed House Republicans for the Oversight Committee's refusal to investigate Flynn's ties to Russia.
"Do you hear the silence? This is the sound of House Republicans conducting no oversight of President Trump," Cummings said.
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