Special counsel Robert Mueller released a statement late Friday disputing a report by media outlet BuzzFeed and promptly sending the media - which had been trying all day to match the bombshell report claiming President Trump had told his lawyer to lie to Congress - into a frenzy.
BuzzFeed’s initial report this morning cited anonymous sources who accused Trump of directing attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about when the Trump Organization stopped pursuing construction of an office tower in Moscow and how the timetable related to the 2016 presidential campaign. This prompted Mueller’s office to react, something Mueller and his investigative team had declined to do since they began the investigation.
Pundits, reporters and politicians reacted immediately including BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith.
“We’re really confident in these specific sources and in the story the reporters told,” Smith told Anderson Cooper on CNN.
“The critics of the president should wake up,” Ed Henry said on Tucker Carlson Tonight. “ My broader point is CNN and everyone else, who, when you wake up this morning [say] the president’s about to be impeached....that’s just as bad as the original story, because you’re supposed to have credibility.”
“We called it. FAKE NEWS!” former Secret Service agent and current Fox News political commentator Dan Bongino tweeted.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told Anderson Cooper, “This is a bad day for the news media. Let’s not kid ourselves.”
Radio and Fox News Channel host Mark Levin appeared on “Hannity,” where he defended President Trump and admonished his detractors.
“They’re dragging down our republic by dragging down our president,” Levin told Sean Hannity. “You want to try and take him out, wait for the next election.”
Trump’s attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani chastised members of the media who wanted to “destroy the president.”
“I commend Bob Mueller’s office for correcting the BuzzFeed false story that Pres. Trump encouraged Cohen to lie. I ask the press to take heed that their hysterical desire to destroy this President has gone too far. They pursued this without critical analysis all day,” Giuliani tweeted.
New Yorker magazine investigative reporter Ronan Farrow tweeted that he had declined to report a story with a similar source.
“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.” Farrow tweeted.
“BUZZBLEED!” was the headline on DrudgeReport.com.
As he often does, President Trump weighed on the story.
“Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited “Dossier,” paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based! A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!” Trump tweeted.