Buzzfeed, the website best known for churning out quizzes and inane lists (we were doing inane lists long before Buzzfeed ever existed, damnit!) is reporting that Donald Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the President’s dealings with Russia and a potential Trump Tower there. Lists and quizzes notwithstanding, Buzzfeed has a crackerjack news division, and this is a solid scoop.
In fact, while Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly attacked Michael Cohen as a liar, the interesting thing here is that the Buzzfeed report is not predicated on Michael Cohen’s testimony.
Just in, Rudy Giuliani’s response to Buzzfeed story: “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) January 18, 2019
The sources are “two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter,” and the special counsel knew that Trump had directed Cohen to lie to Congress before they even asked Cohen, who only confirmed what Mueller already knew.
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.
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."
That’s suborning perjury. Is that an impeachable offense? According to William Barr, Trump’s Attorney General nominee, it sure is:
FLASHBACK:— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 18, 2019
Klobuchar: "A president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?"
Klobuchar: "You also said that a president — or any person — convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?"
Barr: "Yes." pic.twitter.com/cn8WDKLUjI
In a memo drafted by Bill Barr and sent to Rod Rosenstein in June, William Barr also wrote, “[I]f a President knowingly…suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony…then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.”
Moreover, encouraging a witness to commit perjury was also part of the Articles of Impeachment against Bill Clinton, and there are 14 Republican Senators who are still in Congress who were part of Clinton’s impeachment. It was also part of the Articles of Impeachment drafted against Richard Nixon.
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
If the story is correct, Trump told everyone Russia was innocent of a cyber attack on the opposition party while pursuing financial gain in Moscow, lied about it, and then personally directed his attorney to lie about it too. That’s not just collusion. That is conspiracy.— Judah Maccabeets🍝 (@AdamSerwer) January 18, 2019
There’s also more to Buzzfeed’s reporting than suborning perjury. Trump also encouraged Michael Cohen to meet with Vladimir Putin as part of an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and Trump — and his children, Ivanka and Don Jr. — were regularly updated on the status of those negotiations. If Republicans in Congress refuse to impeach Trump, Mueller may be able to leverage criminal charges against Trump’s kids?
We’ll see. Of course, if true, this would be enough to sink any other Presidency, but as there is evidence that several Republicans are also in Russia’s pocket, it may be far more difficult to convince them to impeach. At the very least, however, it illustrates that Mueller is building a powerful case against the President.
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