It looked like the smoking gun that Trump critics had yearned for, specific evidence of a serious crime that could lead to the president’s impeachment, conviction, and imprisonment.
BuzzFeed News reported that President Trump instructed his fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, telling him to testify that his Trump Tower project had been cancelled long before it actually was. Suborning perjury is a felony. In this case, it would also constitute obstruction of justice. It would also raise questions about what President Trump wanted to hide about his relationship with the Russians.
At his trial, among many other counts, Cohen was convicted of lying to Congress about the issue. BuzzFeed said that the Mueller investigation had outside proof that he did so at Trump’s instructions, such as e-mails and text messages. The reporters said that they confirmed the information with two sources in Mueller’s office.
But the BuzzFeed scoop could not be confirmed by other news media. They had to run stories saying that “BuzzFeed reported. . .” as opposed to finding the facts themselves, so that their story could read.” The big players, the New York Times and the Washington Post could not verify the story. (Read this account of the background journalism.)
Robert Mueller’s office released a statement saying that “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”
For more “bombshells” that proved to be duds, go here.