Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office issued a statement Friday disputing bombshell report published by BuzzFeed claiming President Trump explicitly instructed his former attorney Michael Cohen to falsify statements to Congress regarding a proposed real estate deal in Russia.
“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,” special counsel spokesperson Peter Carr said in a statement.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 19, 2019
Citing two identified law enforcement officials, BuzzFeed claimed in a report published Thursday that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress and that he regularly briefed the president and his family on the Trump Tower project in Moscow.
Cohen told Mueller that Trump personally directed him to lie about the timing of the project to conceal Trump’s involvement, BuzzFeed reported.
The publication also claimed Muller’s investigators became aware of Trump’s instructions “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”
Cohen then acknowledged Trump’s instruction, according to the report, when he was interviewed by Mueller’s team.
The statement from Mueller’s office, which came less than 24 hours after Buzzfeed published the report, marks the first time the special counsel has specifically contested a particular story about the investigation.
Following Mueller’s dispute of the accusations, BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith issued a statement standing by its’ publication’s report.
“We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing,” Smith said. “We remain confident in the accuracy of the report.”
The president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani on Friday evening categorically denied the allegations surfaced by Buzzfeed.
“Any suggestion – from any source – that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false,” Giuliani declared.
Cohen “is going to pay a very, very, serious price” for trading on “a pattern of lies and dishonest over an extended period of time,” the former New York mayor warned. “Today’s claims are just more made up-lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation in an effort to reduce his sentence.
In November, Cohen plead guilty in federal court to lying to Congress about the timeline concerning a real estate deal in Moscow. However, he did not claim during his admission in court that he lied because he was instructed to by Trump. The president’s former personal attorney entered into a plea deal with the special counsel to cooperate on “any and all matters” deemed relevant. The maximum prison sentence for Cohen is five years, plus fines of up to $250,000
He is scheduled to testify before Congress in February.