© Stefani Reynolds
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 report, released Thursday, directly rebuts claims that President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE had told his former personal attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenEric Trump lawyer in New York attorney general's fraud case quits Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame Prosecutors considered charging Trump Organization CFO with perjury: report MORE to lie to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
Mueller's report states that "with regard to Cohen's false statements to Congress, while there is evidence ... that the President knew Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen's false testimony."
BuzzFeed News had previously reported on claims that Trump told Cohen to lie in an article published in January titled, “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project.”
The story, which cited "two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter," claimed that Cohen “told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.”
However, Mueller's report disputes that claim.
"Cohen said that his statements to Congress followed a 'party line' that developed within the campaign to align with the President's public statements distancing the President from Russia. Cohen also recalled that, in speaking with the President in advance of testifying, he made it clear that he would stay on message—which Cohen believed they both understood would require false testimony. But Cohen said that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen's testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false, and the President did not direct him to provide false testimony. Cohen also said he did not tell the President about the specifics of his planned testimony," the report states.
Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr had issued a rare statement in January debunking key aspects of BuzzFeed's report, which had sent shockwaves through Washington and had led some political pundits to declare that if the story was true it could effectively end Trump's presidency.
“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,” Carr said at the time.
Despite the pushback from the special counsel's office, BuzzFeed said in a statement earlier this year that it stood by "our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing."