Donald Trump blasted his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen on Friday as a liar who was ‘trying to reduce his jail time’ when he reportedly told Special Counsel Robert Mueller that a scheme to build a Trump Tower project in Moscow extended through the 2016 Republican National Convention and into the months before Turmp became president-elect.
Trump tweeted an attack that cited Fox News Channel White House Correspondent Kevin Corke.
‘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,’ Trump quoted Corke saying.
‘Lying to reduce his jail time!’ the president charged, adding that Americans should ‘watch’ Cohen’s father-in-law for clues to what may emerge next.
And 14 hours after the Buzzfeed story which dropped the bombshell allegation, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani told NBC News the claim that Trump ordered Cohen to lie was ‘categorically false.’
‘Any suggestion – from any source – that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false,’ he told the channels Hallie Jackson.
The president’s defenders also blanketed Fox News on Friday morning to push back against a report that claimed the president instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the 2016 Moscow skyscraper project.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump all made the rounds, taking shots at both the Buzzfeed website and Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.
Gidley, however, appeared unwilling to deny the story’s central claim while he attacked its main antagonist.
‘No,’ he acknowledged. ‘But the premise is ridiculous. We’re also talking about a person, in Michael Cohen, who quite frankly has now been proven to be a liar. He self-admits that he’s a felon.
For their story, a pair of Buzzfeed reporters cited documents held by a pair of law enforcement officials. One of the journalists, Anthony Cormier, conceded in a CNN interview that they haven’t seen any of the documents the officials described.
President Donald Turmp’s team punched back Friday against a Buzzfeed story from overnight that claimed the president once directed his lawyer and fixer Michael Coneh to lie to Congress
Trump himself tweeted that Cohen is ‘lying to reduce his jail time,’ using a Fox News reporter’s caution as a jumping-off point
Buzzfeed reporter Anthony Cormier conceded on CNN that he hadn’t seen the text messages and documents two law enforcement officials say they had, which prove Trump told Cohen to perjure himself
Gidley claimed the story, which relied on unnamed sources, is an example of ‘why the president refuses to give any credence or credibility to news outlets – because they have no ability to corroborate anything they’re putting out there. Instead they are just using innuendo and shady sources.’
‘No, I’ve not seen it personally,’ Cormier said. ‘But the folks that we’ve talked to, the two officials that we’ve spoken to, are fully 100 per cent read into that aspect of the special counsel’s investigation.’
Gidley vented on Fox that Cormier ‘said he couldn’t corroborate any of his own evidence. He ran it anyway! This is quite frankly the problem with the press and why the president continues to call them “fake news”.’
Gingrich, a reliable Trump ally, called the Buzzfeed report ‘an absurdity.’
‘Can you imagine any president of the united states being dumb enough to say to somebody, “I would like you to go over now and lie to Congress?” it is crazy,’ he said in a separate Fox News interview. ‘Only the modern liberal media would even give it any credit.’
Gingrich called Cohen ‘delusional’ and labeled Buzzfeed ‘the equivalent of those tabloids that you buy at the grocery store on the way out, that introduce you to Martians.’
White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said Cohen ‘now been proven to be a liar’ and called Buzzfeed a purveyor of ‘fake news’
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Buzzfeed is following in the steps of ‘trivia and trash’ stories that make the front page of The New York Times
Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara said Cohen is ‘desperate’ and ‘has perjured himself in the past’
He also mocked the news outlet for publishing the story without seeing the documents that could establish its accuracy.
‘The New York Times does this all the time,’ Gingrich said, citing a recent story about the president based on ‘unnamed FBI sources.’
‘So if The New York Times can take trivia and trash and turn it into a page-one story, why can’t Buzzfeed?’
Both Gingrich and Gidley noted it was Buzzfeed that first published an infamous opposition research dossier compiled to discredit Donald Trump, using money from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Among other things, the generally uncorroborated dossier claimed Donald Trump cavorted with prostitutes in Moscow when his Miss Universe pageant was held in the Russian capital.
Lara Trump, whose husband Eric is the president’s 35-year-old son and Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, called Cohen ‘a very desperate man.’
‘I think he holds no water whatsoever. We’ve seen that he perjured himself in the past. It’s ridiculous. It’s all made up,’ she declared.
‘I think, sadly, Michael Cohen is a fraud and he’s trying to get his last couple minutes of fame.’
Buzzfeed reported Thursday night that the president and his oldest children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular updates about the development, even as Trump repeatedly claimed he had no business in Russia.
The report claimed Trump also wanted to visit Russia during his presidential campaign to personally meet with Vladimir Putin and launch talks about building the tower, which he hoped could make him $300 million in profits.
‘Make it happen,’ the unnamed sources claim Trump told Cohen about the meeting.
President Donald Trump directed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, two federal law enforcement officials claim
The sources claim that Cohen told Mueller that, after Trump won the election, he personally instructed Cohen to lie to Congress about when the negotiations for Trump Tower had ended
Buzzfeed’s sources also claim Trump had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about ‘Trump Tower Moscow’ during his presidential campaign.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani warned reporters Thursday night to be skeptical of the report from Buzzfeed, which famously published the anti-Trump ‘dirty dossier’ full of salacious and unproven allegations.
‘If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge,’ Giuliani said.
Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in November, admitting he didn’t tell the truth about the Moscow real estate deal’s timeline. He testified that the project he pursued on Trump’s behalf was abandoned by the time of the Iowa Caucuses in January 2016; that would be consistent with Trump’s ‘political messaging.’
Special Counsel Robert Mueller later filed documents revealing Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president’s family, later in the year – even after Trump became the Republican nominee for president.
Mueller’s team, who is investigating allegations of Russian interference in the presidential election and so-far unproven claims of Kremlin coordination with the Trump campaign, also noted that Cohen’s lies to Congress about when the development ended were meant to ‘minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.’
‘Individual 1’ is Mueller’s name for Trump in the investigation.
The report claims that Trump also wanted to visit Russia during his presidential campaign to personally meet with Vladimir Putin and begin negotiations on the tower, which he hoped could make him $300 million in profits – and told Cohen ‘Make it happen’
President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani fired back against Cohen, calling him a liar; Cohen has already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, but claims Trump ordered him to do it
Cohen, who sources said was put in charge of the project, also acknowledged he considered traveling to Moscow to discuss the project.
The two sources claim Cohen told Mueller that Trump personally instructed Cohen to lie to Congress, after he won the election, about when the negotiations for Trump Tower had ended.
According to Buzzfeed, Mueller first discovered that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress via evidence from internal company emails, text messages, and witnesses from the Trump Organization. Buzzfeeed also reported that Cohen later confirmed it during his own interviews with the special counsel.
Cohen had previously told two congressional committees that the talks about the tower project ended in January 2016, a lie he said was an act of loyalty to Trump.
In fact, the negotiations continued until June 2016, Cohen acknowledged.
Cohen had also testified that he only gave Trump three short briefings on the project, only to tell Mueller later that this was a lie as well.
Trump’s former personal attorney said he far more discussions about Trump Tower Moscow with the president, and also had extensive discussions about it with Trump’s children – giving them ‘very detailed updates’.
Ivanka has claimed she was only ‘minimally involved’ in the project; Cohen has alleged that Trump’s elder daughter was actually slated to manage a spa at the tower and had personally recommended an architect.
The bombshell report by Buzzfeed alleges that the president and his oldest children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr received regular updates about the development, even as Trump repeatedly claimed he had no business in Russia
Ivanka has claimed that she was only ‘minimally involved’ in the project, although Cohen alleges that Trump’s eldest daughter was actually going to manage a spa at the tower and had personally recommended an architect. Pictured is a rendering of the proposed tower
And Donald Trump Jr. testified before Congress that he had only been ‘peripherally aware’ of the development, and that most of his knowledge about the project was gained during the hearing.
After Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, Trump defended the project.
‘There would be nothing wrong if I did do it,’ he said. ‘I was running my business while I was campaigning.’
‘There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gone back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?’
But while Trump was campaigning for president, he repeatedly claimed he had nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.
‘I know nothing about Russia. I know – I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia,’ he said during a debate against Hillary Clinton in October 2016.
‘I don’t deal there. I have no businesses there. I have no loans from Russia,’ he declared then.
Not long after the Buzzfeed report was published, a parade of Democratic congressmen called for an investigation – with some even demanding Trump’s impeachment.
Mueller later filed documents revealing Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president’s family
‘If the President directed Cohen to lie to Congress, that is obstruction of justice. Period. Full stop,’ tweeted Rhode Island Democratic Rep David Cicilline.
‘This stunning Trump Tower Moscow story establishes a clear case of Obstruction of Justice, a felony,’ wrote California Rep Ted Lieu. ‘I’ve lost count now how many times @realDonaldTrump has engaged in Obstruction of Justice.’
‘Oh, fyi the first Article of Impeachment for Richard Nixon was Obstruction of Justice,’ he added.
‘If the @Buzzfeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached,’ declared Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said they will ‘do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true’.
‘The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,’ he tweeted.
Not long after the Buzzfeed report was published, a slew of Democratic congressmen called for an investigation – or even Trump’s impeachment
Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz also called for Congress to investigate the report.
‘I mean everything feels like a bombshell and we are all numb but I’m pretty sure if this story is true it’s – I’m going to be careful with my words here – something that Congress must investigate thoroughly’.
Meanwhile, Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy called on Mueller to ‘show Congress his cards before it’s too late for us to act.’
‘Listen, if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP,’ Murphy tweeted.
Hours before Buzzfeed released its report, Cohen told The Wall Street Journal that he paid a technology company to rig Trump’s standing in two online polls before he launched his presidential campaign.
‘As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS,’ Cohen tweeted.
‘I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.’
Cohen confirmed details in a Journal story that reported how he stiffed the owner of the technology company out of tens of thousands of dollars he promised for work that included using a computer script to enter fake votes for Trump in a 2014 CNBC poll asking people to identify top business leaders and a 2015 poll of potential presidential candidates.
The company owner, John Gauger, told the newspaper that Cohen promised him $50,000 for the work but instead gave him a blue Walmart bag stuffed with between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash, plus a boxing glove Cohen claimed had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter.
Cohen disputed that he paid cash, telling the Journal that ‘All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check.’ He offered no further comment.
Federal prosecutors referred to a payment to Gauger’s company – though not by name – when they charged Cohen last summer with violating campaign finance laws by arranging hush-money payments to two women who claim they had extramarital affairs with Trump.
A charging document stated that Cohen had been reimbursed by the Trump Organization for payments to the women, plus $50,000 for ‘tech services’ that he requested in a handwritten note.