A pilot who partially supported Brian Williams' claim of coming under fire while aboard a helicopter during the Iraq War is now walking back an account he told CNN Thursday. According to CNN's Brian Stelter, who conducted the first interview with the pilot, Rich Krell is "questioning his own memories," and claims that the "nightmares of Iraq have now resurfaced in him."
"I think it's really important to tell viewers that that has happened, that he is no longer standing by his story," Stelter said. "In retrospect, I wish I hadn't shared the story at all."
In an interview with Stelter, and then CNN's Jake Tapper, Krell claimed that he piloted the Chinook helicopter carrying Williams in 2003, and that although they were not struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, the helicopter did come under "small arms fire." The story seemed to partially support Williams' heavily scrutinized account of being shot down while aboard a helicopter in Iraq over a decade ago.
Stelter says he went to lengths to vet Krell and verify his story, including finding a photo of him with Williams and checking with NBC, but now admits that his account "does not check out."
Tapper, too, owned up to the mistake on Twitter Friday:
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 6, 2015