Special counsel’s office disputes ‘aspects’ of story reporting that Trump ordered Cohen to lie

On Thursday evening, Buzzfeed reported that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was following orders from Donald Trump when he lied to Congress about the dates and status of Trump’s attempt to complete a real estate project in Moscow. Throughout the day on Friday, many publications, including Daily Kos, reported on and responded the Buzzfeed article. The story also generated a strong response in Congress, with two Congressional committees announcing investigations into the allegations made in the article. While not confirming the story, CNN followed up with an article showing a close correlation between statements in the Buzzfeed report and information contained in court documents related to Cohen’s statements.

However, on Friday evening one of the article’s authors announced that Peter Carr, a spokesman for the the special counsel’s office, had responded to the original article. 

Carr: Buzzfeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of specific documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony, are not accurate.

The strength of this denial is difficult to judge. The SCO does not appear to be disavowing the story in total. In fact, by addressing only “description of specific statements” and “characterization of specific documents” the statement from Carr itself seems very limited in scope. It does not appear to be addressing the central point of the report.

However, the fact that the special counsel took the unusual action of issuing a statement, and did so many hours after the initial report, generates far more questions than it answers. Why did the special counsel make this statement at this time? The result of the statement seems only to be generating uncertainty — though it is sure to be upheld by Trump and his supporters as vindication and more proof of “fake news.”

At this time, Buzzfeed continues to stand behind the report, saying “We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.” Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, called on the special counsel’s office to clarify the areas of dispute while expressing confidence in the article’s sources.


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