BuzzFeed News Editor in Chief Ben Smith stood by his outlet’s bombshell report in an interview on CNN Friday night. The report revealed that President Donald Trump allegedly directed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, but the special counsel’s office issued a statement calling their reporting “not accurate.”
BuzzFeed reported Thursday night that Cohen told prosecutors working for Robert Mueller that the president instructed him to lie to Congress about his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“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,” spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement Friday night.
“Obviously, we stand by the reporting in this story. We spoke to, as we described, two federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation, we’re not playing any games with that characterization who told us the president directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress,” Smith began.
Cooper asked, “Do you know who those two sources are?” (RELATED: Trump Jr. Reacts To Mueller Labeling BuzzFeed News’ Story As ‘Not Accurate’)
“Do I know? Of course I know. Yes. We’ve been reporting on the Trump Tower Moscow, which is at the heart of the Russia investigation, for months. We broke the stories about it before it was at the center of the Cohen indictment,” Smith responded. “That was Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier. We hope, with the special counsel to release this, honestly, this vague statement disputing the piece, and we really urge the special counsel to make it clear what he’s disputing.”
“When you say it’s a vague statement, I just want to read for our viewers what the Special Counsel said. They 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,'” Cooper added. “You were pointing out earlier in the program, it’s wrong to characterize this as knocking down the story entirely, but there certainly — I mean it’s a very specifically worded statement from them.”
Smith countered, “Yeah, absolutely. They are obviously some of the best lawyers in America. And they are clearly referring to something and we hope they will tell us what they are referring to. I mean I think at this point, we would hope that they would clarify that.”
“Do you have any doubts at this point about the story, about what you have reported? I know you are saying you stand by it. Are there specific areas you have doubts about or any doubts?” Cooper followed up.
“We’re really confident in these specific sources,” Smith added.
Earlier on Friday, the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani categorically denied the report.