A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller's office issued an extraordinary and unprecedented statement on Friday night characterizing as "not accurate" a BuzzFeed story that said Trump had directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Moscow.
'Kevin Corke, @FoxNews "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....", He tweeted.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election and ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith subsequently issued his own statement, saying, "we stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the special counsel to make clear what he's disputing".
Democrats quickly took to social media and television to signal alarm about the report soon after it was published.
Some senior Democrats had said that if the BuzzFeed report was confirmed, Trump's actions could rise to the level of impeachment.
A bombshell new BuzzFeed report may be the most damning yet for the president.
"They are making a public comment to tell everyone to calm down", Weinstein said.
The story had claimed Cohen had acknowledged to Mueller's prosecutors that the president directed him to deceive Congress about key facts linking the president to the proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.
Trump said on Twitter that Cohen was lying in order to get less prison time.
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Lead Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani told reporters that he hadn't examined the Buzzfeed article, but "if you believe Cohen I can get you a good all-cash deal on the Brooklyn Bridge".
Cohen's lawyer, Guy Petrillo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress after admitting that his discussions with Russian officials regarding the construction of a Moscow Trump Tower continued until June 2016 and did not conclude in January of that year, as he previously testified before lawmakers.
In a report released Thursday, the WSJ revealed that Cohen had promised to pay Gauger's company, RedFintch Solutions, $50,000 and "lucrative work" with Trump on his presidential campaign if they would alter online polls on CNBC and the Drudge Report.
It is, however, a federal crime for a president to direct a witness to lie to Congress.
Although the report has yet to be confirmed, if it is true, the United States president could be found guilty of perjury.
"It's a seismic event", Andy Wright, an associate White House counsel under former Democratic President Barack Obama, told Reuters.
Michael Cohen arrives at his home in NY with his left arm in a sling supported by a pillow Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. "That sounds like a mafioso don.it creates fear in the family of Michael Cohen", attorney Lanny Davis told Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "MTP Daily". In Friday's tweet, Trump mentioned Cohen's father-in-law, who he has claimed should be investigated - without offering any details.
If true, it could mean that the president committed a crime called "subornation of perjury".