The office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller is challenging a published report Donald Trump’s former personal attorney lied to Congress at the president’s request.
In a Thursday piece published by BuzzFeed, the article’s authors, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, contend President Trump ordered his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie in congressional testimony over a planned building project in Moscow.
According to the article, Mr. Trump expressed enthusiasm for a real estate project involving the construction of a Trump Tower in the Russian capital city.
BuzzFeed’s piece states Trump allegedly directed Cohen to organize a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to facilitate the plan.
The essay also claims Trump, who was a candidate for the White House at the time the events allegedly occurred, regularly received updates related to the development from Cohen.
BuzzFeed maintains Trump ordered Cohen to lie about the project in front of Congress.
The story relies on two unnamed law enforcement officials, both of whom BuzzFeed asserts are involved in the Russia probe.
The publication of the story galvanized House Democratic committee chairs to investigate the matter and renewed talks of impeachment on Capitol Hill.
In a response to the article’s publication, the Special Counsel’s Office issued a vague but terse statement Friday, disputing the story.
Refuting BuzzFeed’s version of events, Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said:
“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.”
Commenting on his own, Trump tweeted Friday evening on the story, upbraiding the news site and reminding followers BuzzFeed is the source of the December 2016 Trump Dossier story.
Shortly after Mr. Mueller’s office issued its statement, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith tweeted a response. Replying to Mueller’s office, Smith encouraged Mr. Mueller to specifically clarify inaccuracies in the story.
In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel’s spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 19, 2019
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