BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing'

BuzzFeed News said Friday night that it stood by its reporting following a rare statement from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's office disputing the outlet's report about allegations involving President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE's former lawyer Michael Cohen.

"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 a statement to The Hill. BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith also shared the statement on Twitter.

BuzzFeed reported Thursday, citing two federal law enforcement officials, that Cohen had told the special counsel that Trump had instructed him to lie about the timing of negotiations over a potential Trump Tower in Moscow.

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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, but issued a statement Friday night broadly denying BuzzFeed's reporting.

“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 the statement obtained by The Hill.

Shortly after Mueller's office released the statement, Smith called into CNN and MSNBC and reiterated that BuzzFeed stood by the report.

“Obviously, we stand by the reporting in this story,” he said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." “We spoke to federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation … who told us the president directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.”

Cooper asked Smith if he knew the sources from the story, and he said, “Yes, of course I know."

“We’ve been reporting on the Trump Tower Moscow, which is at the heart of the Russia investigation, for months,” Smith explained.

“We really urge the special counsel to make it clear what he’s disputing.”

He added that it would be “the responsible thing” for the counsel to clarify.

Updated: 9:22 p.m.