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Mueller's office disputes report Cohen told to lie by Trump

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:24s - Published < > Embed
Mueller's office disputes report Cohen told to lie by Trump

Mueller's office disputes report Cohen told to lie by Trump

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office on Friday disputed key elements of a media report that President Donald Trump directed his former lawyer to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal, raising questions about a story that has dominated U.S. news coverage for the past 24 hours.

Ed Giles reports.

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Mueller's office disputes report Cohen told to lie by Trump

"Not accurate".

That's how Special Counsel Robert Muller's office late on Friday (January 18) characterized a Buzzfeed news report claiming President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen had been directed by the president to lie to Congress.

Buzzfeed's report cited unnamed law enforcement officials, and claimed Trump instructed Cohen to lie to a congressional committee about a business deal in Moscow and that Cohen had told investigators working for Muller about it.

But in a rare public statement, Muller's office said quote "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 testimony are not accurate".

The spokesman stopped short of characterizing the entire article as false.

But did dispute some parts of the story that appear to go to the heart of the allegations against Trump.

BuzzFeed shot back, with editor-in-chief Ben Smith saying they stand by their reporting and the sources who informed the story.

Reuters has not independently verified the news story.

After Buzzfeed's report was published late on Thursday (January 17) Democrats in the U.S. house of representatives promised to investigate the report saying if it was true it would be evidence of criminal activity by the President.

On Friday the White House flat out denied the allegations in the story.

(Soundbite) (English) WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, SAYING: "That's absolutely ridiculous, I think that the President's outside counsel addressed this best and said in a statement earlier today that's categorically false." Trump in a tweet on Friday said Cohen was lying, in order to get less prison time.

Cohen is co-operating with special counsel Robert Muller who is leading an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump or members of his campaign conspired to try and win the race.

Buzzfeed reported Muller found out about Trump's instruction to Cohen through internal Trump organization emails, witness interviews, text messages and other documents.

The site said Cohen told prosecutors about the directive to lie in an interview.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to congress about the Moscow deal in November.

He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Donald Trump denies seeking help from Moscow to win the White House and has repeatedly called the Muller probe a witch hunt.




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