Congressional Democrats have demanded an investigation into a bombshell report from BuzzFeed that claims that President Donald Trump instructed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a building project in Russia.
On Thursday evening, BuzzFeed News released a report based on the accounts of two anonymous sources who are reportedly involved in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. These two sources said that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress and state that a building project in Russia had ended in January 2016 instead of continuing through June.
That Cohen himself lied is not in question. Cohen pled guilty in November to lying to Congress about the timeline for a Trump Tower project in Moscow. At the time, Mueller charged Cohen with purposely lying about the date the project ended in order to "give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before 'the Iowa caucus and ... the very first primary,' in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations."
If Trump did in fact instruct Cohen to tell this lie, it would be a very serious offense. However, the Mueller report has not been released to the public, and until it has, assertions like these are impossible to verify.
According to the report from BuzzFeed:
[T]he 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.
The special counsel's office learned about Trump's directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.
While neither Trump nor Mueller have responded to these allegations, Trump's current lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, told the Washington Post's
Philip Rucker, "If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge."
TheBlaze has reached out to the White House for a comment on this report, but has not yet received a response.
What are Democrats saying?
Democrats in Congress were quick to respond to this report, calling for a congressional investigation into Trump.
On Thursday Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tweeted that he viewed this allegation against Trump as "among the most serious to date," and promised to "do what's necessary to find out if it's true." Schiff is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), who also sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said that if the story turns out to be true, "President Trump must resign or be impeached."
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif) called on the House Judiciary Committee to "start holding hearings to establish a record of whether @POTUS committed high crimes."
Over on the Senate side, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) tweeted a video of herself from the confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee William Barr. "At AG nominee Barr's confirmation hearing, I asked whether a president directing a witness to commit perjury = obstruction," she wrote. "His response: Yes"
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said it was important for Mueller to continue his inquiry, but also urged the special counsel to "show Congress his cards before it's too late for us to act."
Listen, if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP. Mueller shouldn't end his inquiry, but it's about time for him to show Congress his cards before it's too late for us to act. https://t.co/ekG5VSBS8G
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 18, 2019
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted that he was going to "be careful" with his response, but that if the story was true, it was "something that congress must investigate thoroughly."
I mean everything feels like a bombshell and we are all numb but I'm pretty sure if this story is true it's - I'm going to be careful with my words here - something that congress must investigate thoroughly.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 18, 2019