On his way to Dover to oversee the arrival of four Americans killed this week in an ISIS attack in Syria and ahead of an announcement today about his proposed border wall and ongoing government shutdown, President Donald Trump weighed in on Thursday’s BuzzFeed News report that has captivated news media the past 36 hours.
The report, published Thursday evening, quoted two law enforcement officials who said Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The Special Counsel’s Office led by Robert Mueller, which is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, issued a rare statement Friday saying certain aspects of the report were “not accurate,” though it did not specify which parts.
If true, it would be a potential smoking gun in Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion and obstruction of justice, which the Trump administration has long denied.
“It was a total phony story, and I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night,” Trump said this morning. “I think it was very appropriate that they did so, I very much appreciate that. I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism, and I think also that the coverage by the mainstream media was disgraceful, and I think it’s going to take a long time for the mainstream media to recover its credibility.
“It’s lost tremendous credibility. And believe me, that hurts me when I see that,” he continued. “I’m the president of this country — media could pull this country together.”
The comments echo several of his recent Twitter posts. A sample:
BuzzFeed News has stood by its reporting and its sourcing, with editor-in-chief Ben Smith saying Friday that he urges the Special Counsel “to make clear what he’s disputing.”
Trump meanwhile just returned to the White House from Dover Air Force Base where he met with relatives of the four Americans killed by a bomb, claimed by ISIS, in Syria on Wednesday. He also attended the solemn “dignified transfer” ceremony receiving the four flag-draped caskets.
His announcement about the border wall impasse is set for 4 PM ET (moved from 3 PM ET), and comes on the 28th day of the government shutdown that has resulted. Some reports suggest he could be offering a deal to Democrats who have opposed wall funding, and that it’s less unlikely he will declare a national emergency to act unilaterally to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He has claimed the situation has risen to a “humanitarian crisis.”