One of the two reporters who wrote a bombshell story claiming President Donald Trump directed former personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to under oath to Congress about plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow admitted on Friday to CNN that he didn’t actually see the evidence “personally.”
BuzzFeed’s Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold wrote a report published late Thursday, “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project.”
Cohen found himself in special counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs. He’s already been sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress regarding Trump’s business dealings in Russia prior to his presidency.
But now BuzzFeed claims Cohen lied to Congress about the failed negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, citing two anonymous “federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.”
The sources apparently told the reporters that Trump directed Cohen to lie “by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did.” If true, the report would cause serious problems for the president and show he obstructed justice by suborning perjury.
But Cormier admitted on Friday to CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” that he himself never saw the evidence used in his report.
“I know in the report you say that you have spoken — you have two law enforcement sources who tell you that they have seen evidence, texts, emails, a cache of other documents, maybe transcripts with other witnesses in [the] Trump Organization that Donald Trump pressured Michael Cohen to lie, he suborned perjury,” Camerota said to Cormier. “Have you seen any of that other corroborating evidence?”
Cormier said, “No, I’ve not seen it personally. But the folks that we have talked to — the two officials we have spoken — to are fully, 100 percent read-in to that aspect of the special counsel’s investigation.”
Camerota also confronted Cormier about his co-author’s “dubious past,” noting Leopold had “gotten into trouble” in 2002 and 2006 “for perhaps claiming to have sources that he really didn’t have.”
Leopold got into trouble while working for Salon, which had to remove one of his online reports for plagiarism and dubious sourcing.
“His stories didn’t wash. Executive directors and editors have had to apologize after some of his big blockbuster stories,” Camerota said of Leopold. “So how can you be certain today?”
Cormier replied, “I am rock solid. My sourcing on this goes beyond the two that are on the record. It’s 100 percent accurate. I am the individual who confirmed and verified that it happened.”
“We were able to gather information from individuals who know that this happened. This is a thing that happened,” Cormier added.
Later on during a segment on CNN’s “Newsroom,” CNN political commentator Scott Jennings cast doubt on the BuzzFeed story’s accuracy.
“I would just say there is a paragraph in the story that’s doing an awful lot of work. It’s nebulous about the evidence that supposedly corroborates what Cohen has said. The reporter admits he hasn’t personally seen the evidence,” Jennings told anchor Poppy Harlow.
“And so while I completely agree with you that if any of this is true it would be extremely serious, I’m naturally a skeptical person. And so before anyone has seen this evidence, including the reporter, you’ve got all these Democrats now who want to jump off the ledge on impeachment,” Jennings added. “My political advice to them would be to slow down.”
When Harlow noted that the two reporters point to emails, text messages and other evidence in their article, Jennings countered, “They point to it, but they don’t describe it. They haven’t seen it and they don’t know exactly what that evidence is.”
“Look, I’m not saying these reporters have done anything wrong. This may all be 100 percent true. I’m just saying that I’m naturally skeptical,” Jennings said. “None of us have seen this evidence and I want to see it before I start making crazy predictions about going down an impeachment road or anything else that could happen.”
Speaking on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” on Friday morning, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said, “This is absolutely ludicrous that we are giving any type credence or credibility to a news outlet like Buzzfeed. They are responsible completely and totally for the release of a discredited, disproven false dossier, and now the author of the piece in question that you are talking about went on air this morning and said that he cannot corroborate any of his own evidence, he ran it anyway.”
“This is quite frankly the problem with the press,” Gidley added, “and why the president continues to call them fake news repeatedly because there is nothing in that piece that can be corroborated.”
Gidley also said, “We are also talking about … Michael Cohen, who quite frankly has now been proven to be a liar. He himself admits that he is a felon … I am not going to give any credence or credibility to Michael Cohen, who is a convicted felon and an admitted liar.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), a member of Trump’s legal team, replied to the BuzzFeed piece in a statement: “If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Trump himself quoted Kevin Corke’s interview on Fox News in a tweet on Friday, writing, “Kevin Corke, @FoxNews ‘Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, The Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars…’ Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!”
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
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