Special counsel denies report Trump told lawyer to lie

Washington: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office took the rare step on Friday of disputing a news report on his Russia investigation, saying a BuzzFeed article alleging that US President Donald Trump directed his former lawyer to lie to Congress is “not accurate.”
Trump’s lieutenants had already strongly pushed back against the report, which said that the president ordered Michael Cohen to lie about a Russian skyscraper project they pursued during the 2016 election.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterisation of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.
Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 vote and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow is the subject of frequent articles and even more frequent speculation.
But it is extremely rare — if not unprecedented — for Mueller’s office to issue such a statement.
BuzzFeed’s editor-in chief however said the news organisation stood by its work. “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing,” Ben Smith tweeted.
The statement was nevertheless a cause for celebration for the president, who retweeted numerous supporters slamming BuzzFeed and later wrote it was “A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!”
“Fake News is truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” he added, a now familiar refrain when talking about critical media.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani had earlier called the allegation in the BuzzFeed report “categorically false” in a comment sent to several White House reporters, while Deputy White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley labelled the report “ridiculous.” He said Cohen is someone “who now quite frankly has been proven to be a liar.”
Democrats in Congress had pledged to investigate the report to see if the president had committed an impeachable felony. “These allegations may prove unfounded, but, if true, they would constitute both the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice,” said Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
BuzzFeed reported late on Thursday that Cohen, who worked for Trump for more than a decade, has told investigators that the president personally instructed him to lie about the Moscow Trump Tower plan in testimony in 2017 to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
The BuzzFeed article was based on interviews with two anonymous “federal law enforcement officials” who are familiar with Cohen’s testimony to the investigation led by Mueller. — AFP