As soon as I read the explosive BuzzFeed News report alleging there was evidence that President Trump had directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, I was very suspicious.
Even before the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a statement Friday night saying that the BuzzFeed account was “not accurate,” I wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News raising questions about whether there was actually credible evidence that Trump suborned perjury or obstructed justice by telling Cohen to lie to lawmakers.
It seemed obvious that there were no smoking gun emails containing any such direction from the president. Nor would there be eyewitnesses to any such alleged conversation.
Unlike the obstruction of justice case that led to articles of impeachment being drafted against President Nixon and his resignation – where tape recordings proved criminal conduct by Nixon – the accusations against President Trump would have to rely on the credibility of Cohen, who has a long history of lying and little if any credibility.
In fact, Cohen was sentenced in federal court in December to three years in prison after pleading guilty to lying to Congress, campaign finance violations and financial crimes.
President Trump’s spokeswoman and his lawyers strongly disputed the BuzzFeed report, which was published Thursday, even before the statement from Mueller’s spokesman knocking down the story.
“Two words sum it up better than anything anybody else can say, and that is ‘categorically false,’” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday.