Lanny Davis, a legal adviser for Michael Cohen, refused to either confirm or deny a BuzzFeed News report that President Trump asked his former attorney to lie to Congress about his work to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
In an interview on MSNBC, Davis rebuffed repeated attempts by host Chuck Todd to find out whether the BuzzFeed report was accurate, saying that Cohen instructed him to offer a “no comment” regarding the story.
“I’m going to just say read the story, and the journalists have written about their sources and have written about other corroborating evidence, and I can’t confirm anything,” said Davis, who told Todd that he spoke to Cohen about an hour before his MSNBC interview.
Davis’ refusal to discuss the story leaves unanswered perhaps the most consequential story to date in the Russia probe. If true, the report could lead to Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice or suborning perjury. If false, BuzzFeed’s reputation will take a heavy hit.
According to the website, Cohen has told special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump personally asked him to lie to Congress during testimony he gave in 2017 about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The BuzzFeed report cited two anonymous law enforcement officials who said that emails and witness testimony backs up Cohen’s alleged claims.
Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation on Nov. 29 to lying to Congress about the Trump Tower project. Mueller revealed in court filings that Cohen was in contact with the White House prior to his testimony, but the documents did not accuse Trump of obstructing Cohen to lie.
Todd noted that Mueller’s filing in Cohen’s case did not suggest that Trump asked Cohen to lie in his congressional testimony.
“The absence of something doesn’t always infer something. Secondly, we know that Mr. Mueller did not disclose everything in his filings,” said Davis, who also insisted that neither he nor Cohen had anything to do with planting the BuzzFeed story.
Todd noted that Davis has disputed other stories about Cohen that he claims were false. Most recently, Davis and Cohen both denied a McClatchy report that special counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, as alleged in the unverified Steele dossier.
Both Cohen and Davis specifically denied that story, with Davis accusing McClatchy of having “declining journalistic standards.” (RELATED: Lanny Davis Disputes McClatchy Story Alleging Michael Cohen Prague Trip)
Davis did not provide a clear answer about why he has disputed some stories while remaining silent on the BuzzFeed report.
WATCH: Michael Cohen’s legal advisor refuses to verify Buzzfeed’s report. Is there an obligation to say if it is not true?@LannyDavis: “Anything to do with the Mr. Mueller investigation, he does not want to comment on, nor will he during the February 7 hearing.” #mtpdaily pic.twitter.com/ohn8mvV1zu
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 18, 2019
The White House took hours after the story was published to respond to the claims.
“Any suggestion – from any source – that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false,” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement.
“Today’s claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation in an effort to reduce his sentence,” the former New York City mayor continued.
In an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Dec. 16, Davis was only willing to say that Trump knew that Cohen was planning to lie to Congress.
“[Cohen] publishes ahead of time, which Mr. Mueller criticized him for, his testimony that was a lie about the Moscow Trump Tower. He calls the White House and the president knows from the published testimony that he’s about to lie. Not one person from the White House, I can tell you this, ever said, ‘don’t lie,'” Davis said.
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