As previously reported, BuzzFeed has lit the political world on fire.
A late-night news report claimed Donald Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his involvement with the Russian government in negotiations for Trump Tower Moscow. If the story is true, it’s pretty much a solid case for impeachment at this point.
After all, suborning perjury is one of the charges that was made against Bill Clinton.
But there is something that’s been bugging me all night: There has been no reporting so far that members of the Trump Organization have talked to Robert Mueller or any of the special counsel’s investigators, but here’s BuzzFeed saying it happened:
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.
This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Senior editorial producer at ABC, John Santucci, came out after the report and said they haven’t heard of anyone in the Trump Organization doing so.
FWIW in all our reporting I haven’t found any in the Trump Org that have met with or been interviewed by Mueller. https://t.co/U4eV1MZc8p
— John Santucci (@Santucci) January 18, 2019
Likewise, I can’t find any headlines that say anyone in the Trump Organization have talked with Mueller – and that would be a fairly important story in the investigation.
Now, Mueller’s investigation has been largely leak-free, so it’s possible this is the first time it’s come out. However, the bigger, legacy outlets who have been spending years covering politics and developing more sources within the government. There is only a very small chance that any sources willing to talk to reporters wouldn’t go to those outlets first.
That’s not a knock against BuzzFeed, necessarily. It’s just a fact that the traditional media, for all the reports of newspapers dying and ratings fluctuating, is still more recognizable and considered more legitimate. Those are, in the vast majority of instances, the places people in the government would go to first.
It’s entirely possible BuzzFeed’s reporters got this information first. It is possible that they have sources more willing to give them info that would be that closely held secret by Mueller’s investigation. As I said earlier, this is far too big a story to simply dismiss because of unnamed sources, confirmation bias, and the word of Michael Cohen.
It is possible that the SDNY is sharing intel with Mueller, as Maggie Haberman of the New York Times said in a reply to Santucci when someone asked about it.
Weisselberg hasn’t talked to Mueller. SDNY. It’s possible they’re sharing information but they are separate investigations.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 18, 2019
It’s just an odd tidbit that in any other publication would have been a separate story that would have come up sooner. “Trump Organization witnesses talk to Robert Mueller” would be a pretty big deal in the news world.
Again, not saying it didn’t happen, but when a story like this breaks, you would expect to hear something quickly. It’s still early, though, and that confirmation may yet come.
Like I said before, though… this is a big moment. Either the Impeach Trump movement finally has their chance or BuzzFeed’s credibility is shot. To release a story that definitively says the President of the United States suborned perjury is a big, big deal.