BuzzFeed News doubled down on its defense of its report that President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE ordered his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The report drew a rare rebuke from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate 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 Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s office, saying in a Friday statement that “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.”
But BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal defended the report.
“As we’ve re-confirmed our reporting, we’ve seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate. We remain confident in what we’ve reported, and will share more as we are able,” Mittenthal said in a statement Saturday, the second in two days the media outlet released to defend the article.
The BuzzFeed News report also said Trump met with Cohen at least 10 times to discuss the tower and backed a plan for him to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia to begin negotiations on the development's construction. The president had maintained at the time that he had no business dealings in Russia.
Cohen has cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into obstruction of justice and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. BuzzFeed’s story said Cohen discussed Trump’s order to lie with the special counsel’s staff.
BuzzFeed responded Friday night, saying it stood by its reporting and urging Mueller to “make clear what he's disputing.”
Trump and conservative allies seized upon the controversy surrounding the report.
“It was a total phony story, and I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism, and I think also that the coverage by the mainstream media was disgraceful.”
“The entire premise of this story, which received wall-to-wall coverage, was based on ‘evidence’ the reporters admitted they never even saw. Who could've predicted that the publishers of the phony dossier would get this wrong, too?” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted.
Cohen adviser Lanny Davis refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.