UPDATED: BuzzFeed has responded to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s statement: “We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.”
PREVIOUSLY: Friday evening, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office issued a rare statement in response to BuzzFeed’s blockbuster article alleging Donald Trump instructed his former fixer to lie to Congress.
“BuzzFeed’s descriptions of specific statements to the special counsel office and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony, are not accurate,” Mueller’s office said in a statement.
BuzzFeed’s article had alleged, citing two unnamed law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the Trump Tower Moscow effort, that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress under oath, about negotiations with Russians to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, saying they had ended before the primaries in the U.S. presidential election.
Trump also supported a plan set up by Cohen, BuzzFeed reported, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and “jump-start the tower negotiations.”
“Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen, as reported by Buzzfeed.
Friday morning Trump had responded to the report, insisting Cohen was “lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!” Except BuzzFeed had not interviewed Michael Cohen for the report.
Hours later, Friday afternoon, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani called the report “categorically false” and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called it “absolutely ridiculous.”
But it had taken them hours to step up with these denials, and the interim was filled with Dem lawmakers saying they needed to know if the report was true and to see the underlying documents because, if true, it was grounds for impeachment.
That drumbeat grew so loud in Washington on Friday, the special counsel’s office felt compelled to issue its very rare statement.