File this under “no one saw this coming”!
The Mueller team actually just went on the record to denounce a hit piece published by BuzzFeed against President Trump calling it untrue.
And if that sounds like you’re living in the Bizarro World, then you’re right.
No one expected that, but it just happened.
Here’s a little background in case you haven’t been following the story.
This morning BuzzFeedNews published this salacious article with damaging allegations against our President:
The only problem?
It turns out it isn’t true.
President Trump immediately denounced the story as untrue.
Here's more on that, from The Hill:
President Trump on Friday accused his former personal attorney Michael Cohen of lying to reduce his prison time after BuzzFeed News reported that federal investigators have evidence he directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump property in Moscow.
Trump, after quoting a Fox News reporter noting that Cohen had been convicted on perjury and fraud charges, tweeted that Cohen is “lying to reduce his jail time,” an argument he has previously used to cast his former lawyer as untrustworthy.
Trump also suggested Cohen’s father-in-law be “watched,” echoing previous comments he made to Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro that Cohen “should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at.”
BuzzFeed, citing two federal law enforcement officials, reported late Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller has witness testimony, internal Trump Organization emails and other evidence suggesting Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Moscow plans. Cohen has also reportedly testified to the special counsel that Trump told him to lie.
Other news outlets have not confirmed BuzzFeed’s reporting. Trump did not directly address the allegations on Friday morning but repeated his past characterization of Cohen as a liar.
“Lying to reduce his jail time!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning. “Watch father-in-law!”
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in the course of their investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s ongoing probe.
Cohen admitted that discussions within the Trump Organization about plans to build a Moscow property extended into June 2016, at which point Trump was the presumptive GOP nominee. Cohen initially told Congress that the talks fizzled out that January.
Cohen also admitted to lying about plans to travel to Russia and his contacts with Russian officials in connection with the project. Cohen did so, court filings say, to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1” — where Individual 1 is widely believed to be Trump.
Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for his false statements charge as well as a slew of other crimes he pleaded guilty to in a deal with prosecutors in Manhattan. Back in August, Cohen also implicated Trump in a scheme to pay off women who claimed to have had affairs with him in order to prevent the details from impacting the presidential campaign.
Cohen is scheduled to testify publicly before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7, before he reports to prison the following month.
But no one expected the next defense would come from the Mueller Team itself.
Except it did.
Here are all the breaking details, from Fox News:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday issued an extraordinary statement disputing a bombshell news report that claimed President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie about the timing of discussions over a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.
“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,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, said.
The statement is remarkable in that Mueller's team rarely issues statements in response to news stories. But BuzzFeed's story sparked immense interest from Democrats, who called for renewed investigations and even suggested the allegations could be a basis for impeachment proceedings.
Buzzfeed's Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tweeted after the release of the statement Friday: "In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel's spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing."
In a story published Thursday, BuzzFeed cited two unnamed federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation on the matter who said Cohen acknowledged to Mueller’s office that he was instructed by Trump in 2017 to lie to Congress about the now-abandoned real estate deal to build a Trump Tower in Russia.
The report said Mueller’s office first learned of the directive from interviews with witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company email, text messages and documents.
The report, which was not been confirmed by Fox News, was immediately dismissed by President Trump’s legal team.
"Any suggestion – from any source – that the president counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false. Michael Cohen is a convicted criminal and a liar," Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said. "... Today’s claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation, in an effort to reduce his sentence."
After the special counsel's statement on Friday, Giuliani praised Mueller's team "for correcting the BuzzFeed false story."
"I ask the press to take heed that their hysterical desire to destroy this President has gone too far," he wrote in a tweet. "They pursued this without critical analysis all day."
Giuliani even offered his thanks to Mueller's office:
So what do you think?
Is this one of the craziest stories you've seen recently?
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