Tue | Mar 26, 2019

Not accurate...US Special Counsel disputes claim Trump instructed Cohen to mislead Congress

Published:Saturday | January 19, 2019 | 10:06 AM
Trump...Cohen lied to investigators to reduce his jail time.

United States (US) Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has disputed a media report which claimed that President Donald Trump told his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

BuzzFeed, the online news outlet, reported that Cohen told the special prosecutor’s office that after the November 2016 US presidential elections Trump "personally instructed him to lie" about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

According to the report, the President wanted Cohen to indicate that negotiations for the project ended months earlier than they actually did "in order to obscure Trump's involvement."

Buzzfeed said the report was based on testimony from two unnamed law enforcement officials investigating the matter.

But a spokesman for Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, in a rare and brief statement, disputed the assertions.

“Description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterisation of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate," the statement said.

The spokesman did not say which parts of the BuzzFeed report were inaccurate.

However, responding to the statement from the special counsel's office, Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said he stood by the story.

“We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it and we urge the special counsel to make clear what he’s disputing,” Smith said on Twitter.

The special counsel is investigating alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election and whether Trump campaign figures were complicit - a claim repeatedly denied by Mr Trump.

Trump also denied the report, saying his ex-lawyer lied to investigators to "reduce his jail time.”

Cohen will shortly begin serving a 36-month prison sentence that was imposed by a New York federal court last month after he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress over the Trump Tower plan. 

He also pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and tax evasion.

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