Could This Be The Story That Brings Down Donald Trump?
Huge if true.
I know, I know. You’ve heard it before. Ever since Donald Trump announced he was running for President, every new story seemed like it would be the one to finally take him down. And yet he’s still there, with his weird little finger on the nuclear button. But just bear with me, because this one might be different: according to BuzzFeed News, Donald Trump personally instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his business dealings in Russia. And that could be huge.
The BuzzFeed report, which has rocked Washington D.C., cites two anonymous law enforcement officials who claim Cohen said Trump told him to mislead Congress by asserting that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended months earlier than they actually did.
Cohen was last month sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to eight charges including campaign finance fraud. He is currently cooperating with special council Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between Trump’s election campaign and Russia, and is scheduled to testify before Congress on February 7.
According to the BuzzFeed report, Mueller’s office became aware of the President’s alleged directive to Cohen thanks to “interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents,” adding that “Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office”.
“This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” the BuzzFeed report reads. “But Cohen’s testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.”
A spokesperson for Mueller’s office has disputed elements of BuzzFeed’s story, claiming that “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”.
Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Gulliani has also hit out at the story, telling CNN that “Michael Cohen is a convicted criminal and a liar,” and that the claims reported by BuzzFeed “are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation, in an effort to reduce his sentence”.
Despite these denials, BuzzFeed has stood by the story. “We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing,” the news outlet said in a statement. “We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.”
Either way, the reaction to the story has been significant, with a number of senior Democrats pointing out that, if the allegations are true, Trump would have committed a serious federal crime.
If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 18, 2019
If the President directed Cohen to lie to Congress, that is obstruction of justice. Period. Full stop.
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) January 18, 2019
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. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true. https://t.co/GljBAFqOjh
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 18, 2019
Based on the Buzzfeed report and numerous other articles showing @realDonaldTrump committed Obstruction of Justice and other possible felonies, it is time for the House Judiciary Committee to start holding hearings to establish a record of whether @POTUS committed high crimes.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 18, 2019
It’s also worth noting that the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon 1974 cited the then-President “approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States”.
So, y’know… fingers crossed.