The organization that makes the presidential transition guide said Monday that President Donald Trump's attorney took its manual out of context when he cited it to defend actions taken by the president's top advisors in the runup to Inauguration Day.
The lawyer, Ty Cobb, was quoted in a weekend report in The New York Times that documented close collaboration between senior members of Trump's transition team and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in the period when Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
"It would have been political malpractice not to discuss sanctions," Cobb said, according to the Times. "The presidential transition guide specifically encourages contact with and outreach to foreign dignitaries."
CNBC published the quote, citing the Times, in a Sunday article.
Cobb told CNBC that his quote in The New York Times was taken out of context in a way that changed its meaning. Cobb said that he meant that it would have been political malpractice not to discuss sanctions internally, among the transition staff. His reference to the presidential transition guide, he said, came much later in his interview with the Times.
The New York Times told CNBC on Monday, "Mr. Cobb was fairly and accurately quoted in our story."
But the notion that the transition guide encourages presidents-elect and their representatives to engage foreign leaders in policy talks stretches the intent of the guide, said Max Stier, president of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, which compiled the guide.