Mueller’s office says BuzzFeed report inaccurate

BuzzFeed stands by reporting on disputed story

Mueller’s office says BuzzFeed report inaccurate
BuzzFeed, citing federal law enforcement sources, reports that President Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.

(CNN/AP) – The special counsel’s office has issued a rare public statement disputing the accuracy of a news report saying that President Donald Trump told his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

The statement by Robert Mueller's office on Friday night doesn't cite any specific errors.

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.”

BuzzFeed says it stands by its reporting but is “working to determine what exactly” Mueller’s office is disputing about its story on Trump and Cohen.

In a statement Friday night, BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal says the news organization is trying to figure out what Mueller’s team is taking issue with.

In a separate statement, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith says it stands by the reporting and the “sources who informed it.” He called on Mueller "to make clear what he’s disputing.

Earlier, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, had said the committee will “do what’s necessary” to confirm a report that President Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

Schiff, D-CA, said the allegation that Trump “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.”

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Buzzfeed News said the information that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow came from two federal law enforcement officials.

The officials cited by Buzzfeed News said Trump instructed Cohen to tell lawmakers that talks about building a Trump Tower in Moscow ended months sooner than they really did.

CNN could not independently corroborate the story.

BuzzFeed also says Trump supported a plan to negotiate the project face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, said directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. “The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work,” Nadler tweeted.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, said in response: “If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Trump, in a Friday morning tweet, also accused Cohen of lying and also said "Watch father-in-law!”

The Buzzfeed report says special counsel Robert Mueller learned from multiple sources that Trump directed Cohen to lie.

Those sources include witness testimonies, internal emails, texts and other documents.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Moscow project, and he’s now cooperating with the Mueller probe.

Copyright 2019 CNN. All rights reserved. Gray Television Group, Inc., and Associated Press contributed to this report.