Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report contradicts a high-profile Buzzfeed News story that indicated Mueller’s team had evidence President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.
Cohen pled guilty to lying to Congress last year after it was revealed that he told lawmakers that conversations about the construction of a Moscow Trump Tower ended in January 2016, when they actually continued for months thereafter and involved Trump personally.
A January 18 Buzzfeed story claimed that Cohen told the Mueller’s team that Trump “personally instructed him” to mislead lawmakers “in order to obscure Trump’s involvement” in the Moscow Trump Tower project.
Buzzfeed touted Cohen’s supposed testimony as “the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.”
The report’s authors claimed the special counsel learned of Trump’s directive through “interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents” and later from Cohen himself.
Mueller’s report, however, directly refutes those claims.
“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,” the report reads.
Mueller’s team did acknowledge in the report that Trump knew Cohen’s testimony was false but stipulated that the “evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen’s false testimony.”
The special counsel took the rare step of issuing a statement in response to the Buzzfeed story in which they said the descriptions of Michael Cohen’s testimony were “inaccurate.”
The reporters responsible for the story have continued to stand behind it despite the special counsel’s statement.