Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation directly contradicts an explosive BuzzFeed story that claimed Mueller had evidence President Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen, his former attorney, to lie to Congress about a potential Moscow real estate deal.
The Jan. 18 BuzzFeed story claimed that Cohen “told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.”
The story claimed that Mueller’s office “learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.”
BuzzFeed touted its story as “the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.”
But Mueller’s report states that “Cohen said that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen’s testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false, and the President did not direct him to provide false testimony. Cohen also said he did not tell the President about the specifics of his planned testimony.” (RELATED: Read The Full Mueller Report Here)
The special counsel’s report concluded that while there is evidence “that the President knew Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen’s false testimony.”
BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal declined to comment in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
In an update to the story published Thursday evening, BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith attributed the erroneous reporting to a mischaracterization of FBI notes from Cohen’s interview with the agency.
The special counsel’s office disputed BuzzFeed’s story shortly after it was published, but the news outlet stood by the article.
“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,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said at the time.
Anthony Cormier, one of two reporters on the story, told CNN two days later that BuzzFeed remained “100 percent behind” its reporting.
“I have further confirmation that this is right. We are being told to stand our ground. Our reporting is going to be borne out to be accurate, and we’re 100 percent behind it,” Cornier said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
“The same sources that we used in the story are standing behind it, and so are we,” Cornier said at the time.
This article was updated to include Smith’s explanation for BuzzFeed’s inaccurate reporting
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