Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office issued a statement late on Friday taking issue with a report in BuzzFeed that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said Trump told him to lie to Congress. YahooNews reports
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday disputed key elements of a media report that President Donald Trump directed his former lawyer to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal, raising questions about a story that has dominated U.S. news coverage for the past 24 hours.
BuzzFeed News reported late on Thursday that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who is slated to go to prison for lying to Congress and other crimes, told investigators working for Mueller that Trump had instructed him to lie about efforts to build a skyscraper in Moscow while he was running for president.
“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,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, said in the special counsel’s first comment on a media report since its probe started 20 months ago.
While Carr did not directly address whether there was evidence that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, he disputed portions of the story about how BuzzFeed corroborated the explosive allegations against Trump.
Citing information from two federal law enforcement officials, BuzzFeed said Cohen told the special counsel that after the 2016 presidential election Trump instructed him to tell Congress that negotiations over the Moscow project had ended earlier than they had in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
Carr’s statement also appeared to dispute BuzzFeed’s assertion that the special counsel learned about Trump’s directive from interviews with employees of the Trump Organization, emails, text messages and other documents.
BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said in a statement: “We stand by the reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”