A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller disputed BuzzFeed’s report, saying in a rare statement that its “description” of statements to Mueller’s office, as well as the “characterization” of documents and testimony the office obtained, was inaccurate.
BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, said in reply that the news site stands by its reporting and asked the special counsel’s office to clarify its statement.
Some of the first to react to the article Thursday included Democratic lawmakers, such as Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas), Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.).
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
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.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 18, 2019
Others on Capitol Hill vowed to investigate:
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. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true. https://t.co/GljBAFqOjh— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 18, 2019
Incredible. @realDonaldTrump suborned #perjury so that @MichaelCohen212 would lie to #Congress and obstruct its investigation into whether a hostile foreign power subverted our democracy-oh, and his campaign may have colluded, too #trumprussia #Collusion https://t.co/DLObIV2fZ3— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) January 18, 2019
If the President directed Cohen to lie to Congress, that is obstruction of justice. Period. Full stop.— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) January 18, 2019
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
Outside of Congress, the article created a buzz throughout Twitter into the predawn hours Friday:
If I were Trump, Ivanka or Don Jr, this would make my blood run cold:— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) January 18, 2019
"The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through...internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."
The shutdown is diversion. Latest report: Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, he received 10 personal updates from Cohen, and encouraged meeting with Putin. If true, impeachment soon begins. https://t.co/EgkdZ0Svcx— Robert Reich (@RBReich) January 18, 2019
I've cautioned everyone to keep your foot off the impeachment pedal because this Senate will never convict.— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) January 18, 2019
If this story is true and *proven,* I think there's no choice but to impeach the President of The United States for obstruction and subornation of perjury.
This is a very important report. IF IT IS TRUE, this is evidence remarkably similar to evidence used to build the impeachment counts against Clinton and Nixon. Both Clinton and Nixon encouraged witnesses to make false statements under oath: https://t.co/FCDRrUhJYk pic.twitter.com/Q4Yu7QPtWC— David French (@DavidAFrench) January 18, 2019
Impeach.— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) January 18, 2019
Good thing Pelosi is in town, right?#TrumpRussianAsset #TrumpRussia
“President Trump Directed His Attorney To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project.
Trump received 10 personal updates from Michael Cohen and encouraged a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.” pic.twitter.com/zTdX6kPAFq
DONALD TRUMP CONSPIRED WITH RUSSIA BECAUSE HE WANTED A STUPID HOTEL IN MOSCOW WITH HIS NAME ON IT AND GOLD TOILETS IN THE ROOMS. HE’S A FOOL. AND I’M SHOUTING because for gods sake we all know it. So enough already. Open the government. Pay people. And let’s dare to eat impeach.— Ken Olin (@kenolin1) January 18, 2019
IMPEACH AND CONVICT THE MOTHERFUCKER— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 18, 2019
If this Buzzfeed story is true, we must impeach and imprison the President of the United States.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) January 18, 2019
Trump is done.
The first article of impeachment against Nixon was just this: obstruction by directing others to lie. This is not hysteria or hyperventilating. It’s history.— Jon Meacham (@jmeacham) January 18, 2019
Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, according to @BuzzFeedNews, and they claim Mueller has ample proof. If true, Trump committed a felony—and no Member of Congress should stand for this.— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) January 18, 2019
Republicans, your country needs you. You’re Americans first. https://t.co/A5L2ceVW8g
Asking someone to lie under oath is a felony, so if @buzfeed story that Trump directed lies from Oval Office holds up then House must investigate & impeach; then the Senate convict, followed by criminal prosecution.— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) January 18, 2019
NO reason to wait for Mueller report.
If BuzzFeed takes down Trump y'all gonna take those quizzes more seriously.— Natasha Rothwell (@natasharothwell) January 18, 2019
This article has been updated with the special counsel’s office’s reply on the BuzzFeed report and BuzzFeed’s response to that message.