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Democrats Vow Aggressive Investigations Into Report That Trump Directed Cohen to Lie to Congress
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49980"><span class="small">John Wagner and Tim Elfrink, The Washington Post</span></a>   
Friday, 18 January 2019 13:16

Excerpt: "Democrats in Congress vowed Friday to aggressively investigate a new report that President Trump personally directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the president's push for a Moscow real estate project ahead of the 2016 election."

Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to Donald Trump, leaves federal court in New York, August 21, 2018. (photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Getty)
Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to Donald Trump, leaves federal court in New York, August 21, 2018. (photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Getty)

Democrats Vow Aggressive Investigations Into Report That Trump Directed Cohen to Lie to Congress

By John Wagner and Tim Elfrink, The Washington Post

18 January 19


emocrats in Congress vowed Friday to aggressively investigate a new report that President Trump personally directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the president’s push for a Moscow real estate project ahead of the 2016 election.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his panel would “get to the bottom” of the allegations in a Thursday night report from BuzzFeed News that have caused an uproar among congressional Democrats.

“We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction,” Nadler said in a tweet. “Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.”

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also said that his panel would do “what’s necessary to find out if it’s true” that Trump had directed Cohen, a longtime loyalist and fixer, to lie to Congress about plans for a massive Trump Tower in Moscow.

“These allegations may prove unfounded, but, if true, they would constitute both the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice,” Schiff said in a statement Friday morning. “Our committee is already working to secure additional witness testimony and documents related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal and other investigative matters.”

Early Friday afternoon, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani issued a flat denial of the BuzzFeed story.

“Any suggestion — from any source — that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false,” Giuliani said in a statement. “Today’s claims are just more made-up lies born of Michael Cohen’s malice and desperation, in an effort to reduce his sentence.”

The BuzzFeed report cited two unnamed federal law enforcement officials who say Cohen acknowledged in interviews with the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that the president directed him to deceive Congress about key facts linking Trump to the proposed deal in Russia. Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying under oath about those details.

The Washington Post has not independently verified the BuzzFeed report, on which congressional Republicans have largely remained silent.

According to the report, the special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s alleged directive for Cohen to lie through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages and what BuzzFeed described as “a cache of other documents.”

Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with the special counsel’s office, BuzzFeed reported.

A person close to the Trump organization, with knowledge of documents and witness testimony in the ongoing investigation, said he has “seen nothing to corroborate the allegations,” in the BuzzFeed article.

“We believe the story is completely false,” said the person, who asked not to be identified by name because he was not authorized to speak on the topic.

In his first public comments on the report, Trump went on Twitter on Friday morning to quote a Fox News reporter, Kevin Corke, as saying, “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....”

“Lying to reduce his jail time!” Trump added in his own words.

The Journal story to which Trump referred reported that Cohen had hired a technology company to help rig online polls in Trump’s favor ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The report said that Cohen sought a larger reimbursement from Trump and his company than what he paid the technology company.

During an appearance on Fox News on Friday morning, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley did not directly answer questions about whether Trump had directed Cohen to lie to Congress but sought to attack the credibility of both Cohen and BuzzFeed.

“This is absolutely ludicrous that we are giving any type of credence or credibility to a news outlet like BuzzFeed,” Gidley said. “There is nothing in that piece that can be corroborated. . . . There’s just using innuendo and shady sources.”

In a statement, Lanny J. Davis, a legal communications adviser to Cohen, said that both he and Cohen are declining to respond to reporters’ questions “out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation.”

In television interviews Friday morning, most Democrats were careful to couch their reaction to the BuzzFeed story on the condition that it turns out to be true.

“If this is true, what it means is this is more evidence that the president has violated his oath of office,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “If he told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, if he suborned perjury, this is as serious as it gets.”

Several Democrats — inside and outside of Congress — raised the specter of impeachment if the story proved true.

“If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached,” tweeted Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Eric Holder, who served as attorney general and is eying a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, tweeted Thursday night that Congress should start impeachment hearings if the story is accurate.

“If true - and proof must be examined - Congress must begin impeachment proceedings and Barr must refer, at a minimum, the relevant portions of material discovered by Mueller. This is a potential inflection point,” he wrote.

Several Republicans on Capitol Hill sought to deflect questions about the BuzzFeed report on Friday.

Asked if it would be an impeachable offense for Trump to direct Cohen to lie to Congress, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told reporters he was focused on ending the partial government shutdown.

“Honestly, I haven’t even seen the reports. I’m not focused on that right now,” he said.

Portman said that Mueller’s investigation “is the place to sift all this out” and said it is important for the investigation to continue “unimpeded.”

In November, Cohen admitted he had falsely told Congress that Trump’s efforts to build a condo tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, when, in reality, those efforts continued through that June.

As Mueller noted, Cohen’s testimony was an attempt to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1,” which is how Trump is referred to in the report. Trump had repeatedly insisted on the campaign trail that he had no ongoing business interests in Russia, even as the deal continued to unfold.

In court documents, Cohen admitted that he briefed Trump on his ongoing negotiations with Russian officials about the proposed deal and said that he had consulted with Trump’s team before his false testimony before Congress. But he never said in those documents that Trump himself played any role in encouraging his false testimony.

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0 # DongiC 2019-01-18 23:11
The crowd with "impeachment" on their banners get closer and closer to Sir Donald. Guess this means that the bully-in-chief is in for one huge battle; one that he can't bluster his way out of. Perhaps, he will flee to his buddy Putin. They have so much in common.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-19 07:45
What's weird is that only hours after Buzzfeed broke this story (fake news), Mueller's office issued a statement denying it was true. Then BuzzFeed came out and said that Mueller's statement was vague and untrue.

I think this is where we are in the soft coup against Trump. All of it is false, pure fake news, and the news fakers are now running so out of control that they will publish anything just to make a news splash.

Mueller's intervention in the media hysteria was probably motivated by his growing awareness that his report will never match the sensationalism of the mass hysteria media. So he'd like to tamp them down a bit so his report is not too anticlimactic.

It may also be that Mueller and his Probers want to keep the WashPo and NYT in control of what leaks from their probe and not some upstart like BuzzFeed. They are keeping the rabble in line. The NYT and WashPo are allowd to vaguely cite "two unnamed people close to the investigation" and get away with it. The Echo-Bots all over the nation in the 2nd and 3rd tier media will repeat the NYT and WashPo as if it were gospel truth. But BuzzFeed does not have this privilege, so its sources are questioned. The comment above about the WashPo not independently verifying the sources is just silly. Who verifies the WashPo's unnamed sources?

Fake News is now a total environment.
0 # elizabethblock 2019-01-19 09:10
I'm old enough to remember the time when people who collaborated with the Russians did so for political reasons - they were Communists or Communist sympathizers. I find it weird that now it's just for money. And even weirder that it's a rich man who wants to become even richer.
-2 # librarian1984 2019-01-19 11:50
Gawd, how thrilling. Camera whores Nadler and Schiff will take up the burden of keeping the theatre alive. Huzzah.

Amid the circus of horrors that includes a government shutdown, barbarism at the border and the collapse of schools, elections and infrastrucure, at least we can go down the toilet knowing MSDNC ratings are up.

Note that NOT ONE minute of the 24/7 Trump outrage coverage has made one whit of difference to the Mueller investigation .. but it DOES keep us angry, confused and afraid.

What and whose purpose does it serve to maintain this level of stress among the populace? Could it be the GOP, who hate government and want to destroy it? Oh, most definitely. Could it also be the political class, who have turned from public service to rapacious self-interest? Oh yes. On this there is bipartisanship, as politicians and the predatory WDC underclass gnaw the last bits of flesh from the body politic.

Trump may be an abomination but he's OUR abomination, a very American tyrant empowered by craven pols and a corporate press that betrays US every single damn day.

This is tyranny, not just by Trump but by whoever in Congress and the media allow this corrupt system to continue, Pelosi as bad as McConell.

Those scumsuckers continue to get paid, continue to get their great healthcare and generous pensions, while citizens go hungry AND DIE by the neglect of their own government.

The GOP alone could not have brought US to this.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-19 15:03
librarian -- "What and whose purpose does it serve to maintain this level of stress among the populace? "

Wow, once again you ask the right question. The Russia-Trump probe has never been much about Trump or Russia or collusion or any of the petty things that Mueller is digging up. It has always been about the American people. We know from the PNAC manifesto that the ruling elites can never mobilize the whole population to get behind their projects unless there is some "new Pearl Harbor" to crystallize their minds, whip up a frenzy of hate and retribution. Naomi Klein wrote a book on how this works, The Shock Doctrine. Adam Curtis made a 4 part documentary on how it works, The Power of Nightmares.

So the role of the media now is to feed nightmares to the masses so they will get so stressed and distraught that they will tell the leaders to just "do whatever you want."

What the leaders want is to transform social media into a propaganda machine. They want to eliminate independent news organizations, like WikiLeaks. They want to staunch the rise of left wing and right wing populism in the US. By doing all these things, they will have undone what gave us Trump and Putin.

In short, America becomes much more fascist. That's Mueller's great goal -- the Shock Doctrine. Shock the people into compliance and submission. The corporate media plays its role as willing executioners.
-2 # librarian1984 2019-01-20 10:37
And tight-lipped Mueller has come out to say this story is inaccurate. Reactions to his statement are illustrative. Many don't report the correction, others downplay it. Many of these 'blockbusters' have been debunked but no one intends to stop or better their practices.

It would be wise for Trump's enemies to see in this that Mueller is NOT their savior, but wisdom is in shorter supply than usual.

RR, I predict that even when when we're proved right about this debacle it will be used to condemn us yet again.