UPDATE: Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office issued a statement to BuzzFeed News late Friday evening disputing elements of BuzzFeed’s report, including statements made to the Special Counsel’s office. The Daily Wire has updates on this developing story here.
According to two unnamed federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation, BuzzFeed News reports, President Trump instructed his “fixer”-turned-“rat” Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about past negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and supported Cohen’s plan to meet personally with Vladimir Putin about the project — and the feds have more than just Cohen’s less-than-credible testimony as evidence.
Last year, the embattled Cohen famously pleaded guilty to falsely testifying to Senate and House intelligence committees about when his negotiations over a potential Trump Tower Moscow project ended; rather than January 2016, as he originally claimed, the negotiations went on months longer. He lied, Cohen claimed, to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 [generally believed to be Trump,” with the express hope of “limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”
“Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also 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,” BuzzFeed reports.
Investigators learned this, the two sources say, “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents,” the outlet reports. After investigators learned about Trump’s alleged instructions to his former lawyer, Cohen then admitted to the special counsel that the allegation was true.
BuzzFeed’s sources also say that not only did Trump know about the ongoing Moscow real estate negotiations in 2016, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. likewise received “regular, detailed updates” from Cohen.
“On the campaign trail, Trump vehemently denied having any business interests in Russia,” BuzzFeed underscores. “But behind the scenes, he was pushing the Moscow project, which he hoped could bring his company profits in excess of $300 million. The two law enforcement sources said he had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the campaign.” (Read the full report here.)
Update: Below is BuzzFeed’s Anthony Cormier’s interview with CNN’s “New Day” Friday morning in which he says while he’s “rock solid” on the report, he has not “personally” seen the alleged hard evidence (h/t Mediaite):
Cohen has now agreed to multiple plea deals with authorities in which he has admitted to deliberately misleading investigators and violating various laws. Trump has repeatedly reminded the public that Cohen is a self-admitted liar and crook, including in a tweet Friday morning in which he quotes Fox News’ Kevin Corke noting that Cohen “has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars.”
In December, Cohen was sentenced by Judge William H. Pauley III to three years in prison on several charges, including campaign finance violations and fraud. In the hearing Cohen blamed his “blind loyalty to Trump” for his illegal actions. “I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today, and it was my own weakness and blind loyalty to [President Trump] that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” he said, adding, “Time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass.”