A report alleging that President Trump instructed his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a shuttered real estate deal -- to build a Trump Tower in Moscow -- drew a quick dismissal from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, but had Democrats calling for an investigation.
The allegations were detailed in a BuzzFeed report published Thursday night. It cited two unnamed federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation on the matter who said Cohen acknowledged to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office that he was instructed by Trump in 2017 to lie to Congress about negotiations to build the tower in Moscow.
"If you believe Cohen, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge,” Giuliani said in response to the report.
Earlier in the day, Cohen, who was recently sentenced to three years in prison, claimed Trump directed him to rig online polls in his favor ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He once proclaimed that he "everything in [his] power to resolve" any issue for his boss.
In November, Cohen admitted he falsely told Congress that efforts by Trump to build the tower ended in January 2016, when, in fact, talks had continued through June of that year.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen’s testimony was an attempt to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1,” widely thought to be Trump.
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees.
The two law enforcement sources told BuzzFeed that Trump told Cohen to “make it happen” when discussing a plan to visit Russia during the presidential campaign to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to start negotiations for the tower.
The report also said that Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. received regular details about the real estate deal from Cohen.
In response to the BuzzFeed article, Lanny Davis, Cohen’s adviser, issued a statement to MSNBC saying “Out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation, Mr. Cohen declined to respond to the questions asked by the reporters and so do I.”
The allegations against Trump stand in contrast to the president's past statements that he had no business deals in Russia even as the tower deal continued to unfold. Aside from Cohen's testimony, Mueller's office has more evidence that Trump played a role in encouraging Cohen to lie, BuzzFeed said.
Mueller’s office learned of the directive from interviews with witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company email, text messages and documents, the BuzzFeed report said.
However, ABC News reporter John Santucci tweeted Thursday night that “I haven’t found any in the Trump Org that have met with or been interviewed by Mueller.”
On Wednesday, Giuliani claimed he "never said there was no collusion" between members of President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian officials -- but he did say that Trump himself never colluded with Russian officials.
MSNBC journalist Chris Hayes tweeted "Nixon was literally impeached for this," referring to President Richard Nixon, who actually was not impeached -- but resigned in 1974 amid heat from the Watergate investigation, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.
Lawmakers on Thursday vowed to investigate Cohen’s claim against his former client.
“The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.”
Several other Democrats also called for an investigation.
“Based on the Buzzfeed report and numerous other articles showing @realDonaldTrump committed Obstruction of Justice and other possible felonies, it is time for the House Judiciary Committee to start holding hearings to establish a record of whether @POTUS committed high crimes,” U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, went a step further, writing on Twitter: “If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called for the special counsel to be more forthcoming about any information he has regarding President Trump.
Murphy tweeted, "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."