The news media world was rocked Friday night when the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller disputed a bombshell report from BuzzFeed News that said President Trump had directed lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.
Late on Thursday, BuzzFeed ran with a report that cited two anonymous federal law enforcement officials, alleging the special counsel had evidence that the president directed Cohen, his former attorney and fixer, to lie to Congress about dealings regarding a potential Trump Tower in Moscow that took place during the 2016 election. According to BuzzFeed’s report, the sources said that the special counsel learned about Trump’s alleged wrongdoing “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”
BuzzFeed reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier doubled down on their reporting on Friday. Cormier went on CNN and stated that he did not see any of the evidence, but that the two unnamed law enforcement officials had. He called the article’s sourcing “rock solid.”
Meanwhile, Leopold appeared on MSNBC and said “we’ve seen documents and been briefed.”
Asked by Mediaite to comment on what Cormier said on CNN, Leopold responded, “Yes. Anthony said HE had not personally seen the documents.”
However, in an unprecedented move, the office of the special counsel released a statement that pushed back hard against BuzzFeed’s reporting.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, & characterization of documents & testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr stated.
BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith responded to the statement from the special counsel, tweeting this: “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
There has been a strong reaction from journalists and media watchdogs. CNN’s crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, for instance, stressed that no one should “underestimate” the special counsel’s statement.
“I’m sure it pained them to do this. I’m sure it went through many levels at the DOJ and FBI. They don’t talk. This is massive,” Prokupecz tweeted.
The Hill media reporter Joe Concha pointed out how both reporters went on cable news with conflicting statements on their sourcing.
“One went on CNN this morning and said he hadn’t seen the evidence cited in the story. The other went on MSNBC and said both reporters had seen the evidence, so somebody is lying,” Concha told Fox News.
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SOURCE: Fox News – Joseph A. Wulfsohn