Special counsel Robert Mueller‘s office disputed on Friday night a BuzzFeed News report that alleged U.S. President Donald Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a tower project that the Trump Organization was looking to build in Moscow.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the special counsel’s office 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.”
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BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith subsequently issued his own statement, saying, “we stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the special counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
On Friday night, Trump tweeted that it was a “very sad day for journalism but a great day for our country.”
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He also referenced a 2017 Buzzfeed story about a dossier of unverified allegations involving Russia and his 2016 presidential campaign.
Later on, he tweeted the following.
Citing two anonymous federal law enforcement officials, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday that Cohen has told Mueller his ex-boss, now president of the United States, told him to lie so that Trump’s involvement in the Moscow tower project would be hidden.
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The website went on to report that Mueller’s office learned about the alleged directive after speaking with numerous people from the Trump Organization and seeing company emails, text messages and numerous other documents.
BuzzFeed News’ report prompted Democrats to suggest there should be an investigation — if the story proved to be accurate.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders blasted the story as “absolutely ridiculous” on Friday.
“I think that the president’s outside counsel addressed this best and said in a statement earlier today that it’s categorically false,” she said.
That statement came from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said that the allegations in the story were “lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation, in an effort to reduce his sentence.”
Cohen, the special counsel’s office and Cohen all declined to comment on BuzzFeed News’ story.
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Giuliani later tweeted on Friday, “I commend Bob Mueller’s office for correcting the BuzzFeed false story that Pres. Trump encouraged Cohen to lie.
“I ask the press to take heed that their hysterical desire to destroy this president has gone too far. They pursued this without critical analysis all day.”
With files from Kerri Breen