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Saturday, January 19, 2019

President Donald Trump was startled Tuesday as he watched television coverage of his nominee for attorney general describing a warm relationship with the special counsel Robert Mueller in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to three people familiar with the matter.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office disputed an explosive story from BuzzFeed News as "not accurate" Friday night, after the news outlet reported the President had directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, for which Cohen was later prosecuted. read more


White House officials – including Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff – had been irked by Ms. Pelosi's invocation of security concerns as her premise for urging Mr. Trump to move his speech, and sought to put her in her place after she had emphasized that she represented a coequal branch in governing, according to aides. So Mr. Trump made a play for dominance and one-upmanship ... . read more


Thursday, January 17, 2019

The oath of office is a president's promise to subordinate his private desires to the public interest, to serve the nation as a whole rather than any faction within it. Trump displays no evidence that he understands these obligations. To the contrary, he has routinely privileged his self-interest above the responsibilities of the presidency. With a newly seated Democratic majority, the House of Representatives can no longer dodge its constitutional duty. It must immediately open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and bring the debate out of the court of public opinion and into Congress, where it belongs. read more


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

President Donald Trump should either delay his State of the Union address or submit it in writing, Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote Wednesday in a letter citing the security burdens that the annual address to a joint session of Congress would place on a partially shuttered federal government. read more


Comments

The language Cohen and his representatives used in court had been ambiguous. While neither Cohen nor his representatives had ever said explicitly that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, Guy Petrillo, Cohen's attorney, wrote in a memo in advance of his sentencing, "We address the campaign finance and false statements allegations together because both arose from Michael's fierce loyalty to Client-1. In each case, the conduct was intended to benefit Client-1, in accordance with Client-1's directives."

Client-1 refers to Trump. Petrillo declined to comment Saturday. It is unclear precisely what "directives" Petrillo was referring to, though he did not allege elsewhere in the memo that Trump explicitly instructed Cohen to lie to Congress. He wrote that Cohen was "in close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel to Client-1" as he prepared his testimony and "specifically knew . . . that Client-1 and his public spokespersons were seeking to portray contact with Russian representatives in any form by Client-1, the Campaign or the Trump Organization as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016."

People familiar with the matter said after BuzzFeed published its story -- which was attributed to "two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" -- the special counsel's office reviewed evidence to determine if there were any documents or witness interviews like those described, reaching out to those they thought might have a stake in the case.

They found none, these people said. That, the people said, is in part why it took Mueller's office nearly a day to dispute the story publicly. In the interim, cable news outlets and other media organizations, including The Washington Post, dissected its possible implications -- even as their reporters were unable to independently confirm it. People familiar with the matter said the special counsel's office meant the statement to be a denial of the central theses of the BuzzFeed story -- particularly those that referenced what Cohen had told the special counsel, and what evidence the special counsel had gathered.

It's all right there in black and white.

The reporter informed Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr, that he and a colleague had "a story coming stating that Michael Cohen was directed by President Trump himself to lie to Congress about his negotiations related to the Trump Moscow project," according to copies of their emails provided by a BuzzFeed spokesman. Importantly, the reporter made no reference to the special counsel's office specifically or evidence that Mueller's investigators had uncovered.

"We'll decline to comment," Carr responded, a familiar refrain for those in the media who cover Mueller's work.

The innocuous exchange belied the chaos it would produce. When BuzzFeed published the story hours later, it far exceeded Carr's initial impression, people familiar with the matter said, in that the reporting alleged that Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and self-described fixer, "told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie," and that Mueller's office learned of the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

In the view of the special counsel's office, THAT (emphasis mine) was wrong, two people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. And with Democrats raising the specter of investigation and impeachment, Mueller's team started discussing a step they had never before taken: publicly disputing reporting on evidence in their ongoing investigation.

www.washingtonpost.com

Buzzfeed just got shot down in epic fashion.

No they didn't, it's exactly like I said above. Buzzfeed embellished on the corroborating details while the underlying story is wholly accurate. Hope Gal's link to the WaPo story clears this up once and for all.

Based on culling all the talking heads, here's a speculative guess. It appears that Buzzfeed has likely mischaracterized that Michael Cohen told the SC directly and bluntly that Donald Trump ordered him to lie, which I think is wrong because Trump only directed Cohen to lie and that is substantially different even though they can sound close to the same. Think of the difference between a screen writer and a movie director. The screen writer sets the scene and puts the words in your mouth. The director doesn't do that, their job is to make the scene visual and give directions on how and when they want the dialog projected.

Secondly, Buzzfeed implies that the SCO has other evidence that directly ties Trump and some in his administration into conspiring in Cohen's lies in trying to cover up the Moscow deal. And again, the truth is likely somewhere in between. The SCO does have evidence and testimony that implicates Trump and probably some of those around him, it just isn't as black and white as they make it seem.

In actuality, there is nothing new in the Buzzfeed story that wasn't pretty much laid out in Cohen's court documents. Cohen elocuted to Trump having directed him to lie when questioned about Moscow and other things and in the same documents Mueller vouches for Cohen's honesty and candor with what he had shared with the SCO. There likely are emails and other correspondence documenting some of what went on but probably not in the stark, direct way implied in the story. As former USA Chuck Rosenberg said tonight, "The dispute appears to be some mischaracterizations on the specifics might not be accurate. But the core of the story (That Trump directed Cohen to lie about Moscow) is accurate because the court documents establish that."

...if other outlets can't confirm the story, then it should not be trusted.

Ronan Farrow

Verified account

@RonanFarrow
2h2 hours ago

I can't speak to Buzzfeed's sourcing, but, for what it's worth, I declined to run with parts of the narrative they conveyed based on a source central to the story repeatedly disputing the idea that Trump directly issued orders of that kind.

@RonanFarrow

Note that the general thrust of Cohen lying to Congress "in accordance with" or "to support and advance" Trump's agenda (per Cohen's legal memo) is not in dispute. The source disputed the further, more specific idea that Trump issued -- and memorialized -- repeated direct instructions.

Farrow evidently was in contact with at least one of the sources but his reticence was based on a technical characterization, not the underlying facts that said that Trump asked Cohen to lie. Cohen already admitted this in his plea agreement.

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