Not accurate, that's how Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office, late on Friday, characterized a BuzzFeed news report. Claiming President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, had been directed by the President to lie to Congress. Buzzfeed's report cited unnamed law enforcement officials and claimed Trump instructed Cohen to lie to a Congressional committee about a business deal in Moscow.
And that Cohen had told investigators working for Mueller about it. But in a rare public statement, Mueller's office said, quote, 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 testimony are not accurate. The spokesman stopped short of characterizing the entire article as false, but did dispute some parts of the story that appeared to go to heart of the allegations against Trump.
Buzzfeed shot back, with Editor-in-Chief, Ben Smith, saying it stands by their reporting and the sources who informed the story. Reuters has not independently verified the article. After BuzzFeed's report was published late on Thursday, Democrats in the US House of Representatives promised to investigate the report. Saying if it was true, it would be evidence of criminal activity by the President.
On Friday, the White House flat out denied the allegations in the story.>> So did the President direct Michael Cohen to lie to Congress?>> That's absolutely ridiculous, I think that the President's outside counsel addressed this best, and said in a statement earlier today that it's categorically false.
>> Trump, in a tweet on Friday, said Cohen was lying in order to get less prison time. Cohen is cooperating with Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, who is leading an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. And whether Trump or members of his campaign conspired with Russia to try and win the race.
Buzzfeed reported Mueller found out about Trump's instruction to Cohen through internal Trump Organization emails, witnesses, interviews, text messages, and other documents. The site said Cohen told prosecutors about the directive to lie in an interview. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Moscow deal in November. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Donald Trump denies seeking help from Moscow to win the White House, and has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a witch hunt.