Politics

Trump Team Spoke with Mueller Team About Discredited BuzzFeed Report, Says Giuliani

President's lawyer said the special counsel's staff should be commended for 'standing up for the truth'

Image Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images & Shutterstock

President Donald Trump’s legal team communicated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about BuzzFeed’s since-discredited bombshell report alleging that the president told former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. That’s the word of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to Fox News on Monday.

Giuliani, a member of Trump’s legal team, said Mueller’s investigators agreed with Trump’s team that significant portions of the BuzzFeed bombshell were not accurate.

“We commend them for standing up for the truth,” Giuliani told Fox News.

Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold, both of BuzzFeed, wrote a report published late last Thursday, “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project.”

Cohen, who found himself in Mueller’s crosshairs, has 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 the Trump presidency.

The BuzzFeed piece said Cohen lied to Congress about the failed negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow at Trump’s direction – and it cited two anonymous “federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.”

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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 Mueller’s team issued a rare statement on Friday publicly rebuking BuzzFeed for the report — and disputing its allegations.

“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,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr said in the statement.

BuzzFeed’s Leopold got into trouble while working for Salon, which had to remove one of his online reports for plagiarism and dubious sourcing.

And Cormier admitted to CNN on Friday that neither he nor Leopold personally had seen the evidence on which they based their article.

Giuliani said Trump “remembers very little” about the Moscow Trump Tower negotiations, adding, “Michael Cohen keeps saying different things.”

Related: On Trump-Cohen ‘Bombshell,’ Reporter Admits He Didn’t ‘Personally’ See Any Evidence

When Trump responded to Mueller’s interview questions in writing last year, he told the special counsel he couldn’t say definitely when the Moscow Trump Tower negotiations collapsed, Giuliani said.

Trump “had several conversations with Michael Cohen about the Trump Tower proposal. Cohen said the effort ended in January of 2016, and as far as President Trump knows, it ended then,” Giuliani told Fox News.

“There are no documents to reflect anything about this transaction other than a letter of intent,” Giuliani said. “There are no texts and emails or other documents to corroborate BuzzFeed’s claim for the simple reason that it is not true … Whoever is responsible for this is lying.”

BuzzFeed is standing by its story, and its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, said in a statement, ”We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the special counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”

Trump slammed the BuzzFeed report on Twitter on Saturday, writing, “Many people are saying that the mainstream media will have a very hard time restoring credibility because of the way they have treated me over the past 3 years (including the election lead-up), as highlighted by the disgraceful Buzzfeed story & the even more disgraceful coverage!”

On Friday, he tweeted, “Fake News is truly the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

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