In an almost unprecedented event – having rarely commented on stories related to the special counsel’s investigation – Robert S. Mueller III’s office put out a statement firmly disputing the reporting of the news site BuzzFeed, which claimed that the president instructed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about his push for a Moscow real estate project
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” the special counsel’s office said.
As The Hill reports, BuzzFeed had released a statement earlier Friday defending the reporters behind the story and saying that it “stands by this story 100%,” and for his part, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.
President Trump retweeted a few social media reactions…
I told you all that the BuzzFeed story was nonsense. pic.twitter.com/gbTXPjpVtk
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) January 19, 2019
We called it. FAKE NEWS!
“More Buzzfeed B.S.” https://t.co/aOIPJJu0vH
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) January 19, 2019
And then made his own views clear:
Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited “Dossier,” paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based! A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2019
Fake News is truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2019
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Update 1: Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has called the BuzzFeed report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie “categorically false.”
Fourteen hours after the Buzzfeed story hit, @RudyGiuliani finally denies it: "Any suggestion – from any source – that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." per @HallieJackson
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) January 18, 2019
Skeptics are taking aim at a Thursday night BuzzFeed report that President Trump “personally instructed” his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Less than 12 hours after the report, its credibility has been called into question after the two journalists who wrote the story gave vastly different answers as to whether they had actually the evidence – while many have pointed to the “dubious past” of reporter Jason Leopold.
Leopold came under fire for a 2006 Truthout.org article incorrectly reporting that Karl Rove had been indicted over the Valerie Plame CIA leak case – claiming that multiple anonymous sources “confirmed Rove’s indictment is imminent.”
As we learned last week, Rove isn’t being indicted, and the supposed Truthout scoop by reporter Jason Leopold was wildly off the mark. It was but the latest installment in the tale of a troubled young reporter with a history of drug addiction whose aggressive disregard for the rules ended up embroiling me in a bizarre escapade — and raised serious questions about journalistic ethics. –Joe Lauria, WaPo, 2006
Was just tipped off via DM. This reporter is the first name on the buzzfeed byline. So yeah, my skepticism wasn’t unwarranted. https://t.co/IySHs1Zv0l
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) January 18, 2019
The other journalist from the Thursday night BuzzFeed report, Anthony Cormier, admitted to CNN’s “New Day” that he hasn’t actually seen the evidence in the case.
Host Alisyn Camerota opened the interview by asking Cormier if he had seen the evidence to which Cormier replied: “Not personally.” He then clarified that “the folks we have talked to — two officials we have spoken to are fully, 100 percent read into that aspect of the Special Counsel’s investigation” –Mediaite
Except Leopold told MSNBC “We have seen the documents. We have been briefed on documents.”
“We have seen documents. We have been briefed on documents. We are very confident in our reporting," BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold, who co-wrote bombshell new report, says. pic.twitter.com/5RXOx8rvo0
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 18, 2019
“I don’t think that we’ve said that we haven’t seen them.” – Leopold's exact quote on MSBC after being asked about Cormier's comments on CNN earlier.
Cormier's quote – “No, I’ve not seen it personally.” when asked by Alisyn Camerota
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) January 18, 2019
And now, The two BuzzFeed reporters on the "Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie" story have given two entirely separate accounts re whether they have seen the physical evidence detailed in their own report. 🤷♂️#ThisisFineGIF pic.twitter.com/ZQiVmZqUs0
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) January 18, 2019
Wait wait wait…
BuzzFeed’s reporter hasn’t seen ANY of the “evidence” on which his entire story is predicated???
Like all the other Russia collusion BS, this all hearsay and slander. No proof of anything.
— Harlan Z. Hill (@Harlan) January 18, 2019
Despite not having seen the evidence at hand, Cormier explained his sources at length: “[Our sources] have been working the Trump Moscow tower portion of the investigation…before Mueller. So they had access to a number of different documents, 302 reports which are interview reports,” he explained. “That stuff was compiled as they began to look at who the players were speaking with, how those negotiations went, who all from the Trump organization and outside the organization were involved in getting that tower set up.”
Cormier was then asked about Jason Leopold’s dubious past, with CNN‘s Alisyn Camerota asking: “He was in trouble for perhaps claiming to have sources he really didn’t have. His stories didn’t wash. Executive directors and editors have had to apologize after some of his big blockbuster stories,” adding “How can you be certain today?”
To which Cormier said: “My sourcing on this goes beyond the two on the record,” adding “It’s 100 percent. I am the individual who confirmed and verified that it I am telling you our sourcing goes beyond the two I was able to put on the record. We were able to gather information from individuals who know this happened.”
Cormier told NPR‘s “Morning Edition” that they had “managed to find ways to verify these people’s stories off the record.”
BuzzFeed News reports that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. @a_cormier_, one of two reporters who broke the story, says of their two law enforcement sources, "we've managed to find ways to verify these people's stories off the record." https://t.co/93EjJl0Js6 pic.twitter.com/owzl9iKkjR
— Morning Edition (@MorningEdition) January 18, 2019
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
Trump Jr. chimed in as well, tweeting “Here we go again… another CNN/Buzzfeed “bombshell” with no evidence. The usual clickbait BS… and when it fails as all the others have there will be ZERO coverage.”
Here we go again… another CNN/Buzzfeed "bombshell" with no evidence. The usual clickbait BS… and when it fails as all the others have there will be ZERO coverage. Textbook #fakenews https://t.co/VNHN9ndz36
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 18, 2019
On Friday morning, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said “We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true,” of the BuzzFeed report, calling the allegation the “most serious to date.”
“We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true,” House Intel Cmte. Chairman Schiff says of new BuzzFeed News report that President Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. https://t.co/BybYlmFCkW
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 18, 2019
“The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,” Schiff tweeted on Friday – one day after President Trump canceled his 7-day overseas trip with Nancy Pelosi.
The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true. https://t.co/GljBAFqOjh
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 18, 2019