In Rare Statement, Mueller's Office Disputes BuzzFeed Report
By RJ Johnson - @rickerthewriter
January 18, 2019
A bombshell report published by BuzzFeed Thursday says President Donald Trump personally directed his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
However, in a rare statement from special counsel Robert Mueller's office, Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller's office, took issue with the characterization of documents and testimony as described in BuzzFeed's report.
"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 office, said in the statement.
In response, Buzzfeed issued their own statement: "We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report."
The editor-in-chief at BuzzFeed, Ben Smith, tweeted that they were standing by their article published Thursday night.
"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," Smith wrote.
The allegations detailed in the report were confirmed by two law enforcement sources involved in the investigation on the matter.
The sources confirmed to BuzzFeed that Cohen acknowledged to special counsel Robert Mueller's team that Trump directed him to lie to Congress about negotiations to build the tower in Moscow. Mueller's office learned of Cohen's alleged deception to lawmakers through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization, and internal company documents, including emails, text messages and other items.
Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani responded to the allegations saying, "If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge."
The report outraged many Democrats, with many calling for an investigation into the allegations. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted Thursday that if the report was true, the allegations the president suborned perjury were "among the most serious to date."
"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," Schiff wrote.
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
The president dismissed the allegations on Twitter Friday, writing that he believed Cohen was lying to reduce his jail time adding to "watch" Cohen's "father-in-law!"
The law enforcement sources also told BuzzFeed that Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. also received regular, detailed updates from Cohen about the negotiations with Moscow.
A letter of intent to build the tower in Moscow signed by the president was obtained by CNN last month. It's dated October 28, 2015 and bears Trump's signature. The deal would have given Trump's company $4 million upfront, a percentage of the sales, and an opportunity to name the hotel spa after Ivanka Trump.
A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump's attorney told CNN that the president's daughter
"Ms. Trump did not know about this proposal until after a non-binding letter of intent had been signed, never talked to anyone outside the Organization about the proposal, never visited the prospective project site and, even internally, was only minimally involved," Peter Mirijanian told CNN in the statement.
Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison last month, also claimed that Trump directed him to rig several online polls in his favor ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He is scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7th, promising to give a "full and credibly account of the events that have transpired" while working with the president.
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