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360° Perspective: Buzzfeed Cohen Report

WASHINGTON – The acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said this week Special Counsel Robert Mueller is almost finished with the Russia investigation.

It’s been a nearly two-year probe looking into possible collusion and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen will be testifying next week behind closed doors with a House Intelligence Committee before he heads to prison for several crimes including lying to Congress.

In our 360 reporting, some viewers have reached out asking about what happened with the Buzzfeed report on Michael Cohen.

January 17 Buzzfeed News dropped a bombshell report. It said President Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump tower project. The report cited two anonymous federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation.

The report had some Democrats in Congress calling it grounds for impeachment. In the story, Buzzfeed News said Mueller’s office declined to comment by the story’s publication.

Almost a day after it was published a spokesman for Mueller released this statement:

“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.”

President Trump thanked the office for releasing that statement.

Buzzfeed News’ Editor-in-Chief responded on Twitter and said the story is accurate.

“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,” @BuzzFeedBen

Cohen is reporting for a three-year prison sentence March 6th. He pleaded guilty in November to campaign finance violations, tax crimes and lying to Congress. He admitted to lying to Congress, so at issue is whether President Trump directed him to.

Here’s what we know:

  • Buzzfeed stands by the report.
  • President Trump and Special Counsel dispute it.
  • No other media outlets have been able to confirm the report.
  • Cohen will serve time for lying to Congress.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • What Mueller specifically disputes in the report.
  • The findings of the Russia investigation.
  • What Cohen has said in his testimony.

Some Republican lawmakers say this is an example of why the Russia investigation needs to be wrapped up and released immediately. When it is wrapped up, the Justice Department would likely make some aspects of it public. Democrats have said they will fight to make the whole report public.

Of course, we will continue to keep you posted, cutting through the spin, with the facts.

Elizabeth Watts

Elizabeth Watts

News5 Evening Anchor
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