Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE's office issued a rare statement Friday night disputing an explosive report from BuzzFeed News that President TrumpDonald TrumpOmar, Muslim Democrats decry Islamophobia amid death threats On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Trump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension MORE had told his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.
A number of Democratic lawmakers had seized on the report throughout the day on Friday, calling the latest bombshell allegation against Trump the most damning yet, with several raising the possibility of impeachment.
“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,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement obtained by The Hill on Friday night.
BuzzFeed News said in its own statement responding to the special counsel that it stood by the report, while calling for Mueller to detail what parts of its reporting he was specifically disputing.
"We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing," BuzzFeed News said in the statement to The Hill.
The report said federal investigators have evidence that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the timing of negotiations over a potential Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cited "two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter."
"We spoke to federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation … who told us the president directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress," Smith said on "Anderson Cooper 360."
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.— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 18, 2019
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani tweeted Friday night to "commend" Mueller's office for disputing the BuzzFeed story, while Trump knocked the outlet in his own tweet late Friday, calling it "a very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!"
In his tweet, Trump noted that BuzzFeed had previously published in January 2017 a dossier of unverified allegations surrounding Trump's ties to Russia. BuzzFeed has long defended its publication of the controversial opposition research document.
I commend Bob Mueller’s office for correcting the BuzzFeed false story that Pres. Trump encouraged Cohen to lie. I ask the press to take heed that their hysterical desire to destroy this President has gone too far. They pursued this without critical analysis all day. #FAKENEWS— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) January 18, 2019
Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited “Dossier,” paid for by Crooked Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future MORE and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based! A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
Mueller's office rarely comments on stories related to the special counsel's investigation into potential collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
Former Department of Justice spokesman Matthew Miller said that the rarity of the special counsel responding to reports may mean the story is "fundamentally wrong."
“You can spend hours parsing the Carr statement, but given how unusual it is for any [Justice Department] office to issue this sort of on the record denial, let alone this office, suspect it means the story’s core contention that they have evidence Trump told Cohen to lie is fundamentally wrong,” he wrote on Twitter.
Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpCourt orders release of some redacted passages of Mueller report How Trump uses fundraising emails to remain undisputed leader of the GOP Donald Trump Jr. joins Cameo MORE reacted to the special counsel's statement denying the BuzzFeed report on Friday night by sharing a series of laughing emojis on Twitter. The president's eldest son tweeted in part to argue that "BuzzFeed (RIP) proves what a joke the coverage of the witch hunt has been."
The president earlier Friday in the wake of the report accused his former longtime attorney of lying in order to reduce his prison time.
BuzzFeed had released a statement earlier Friday defending the reporters behind the story and saying that it "stands by this story 100%."
For his part, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.
Updated: 10:15 p.m.