BuzzFeed on Sunday continued to defend its explosive report alleging President Donald Trump directed his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress in 2017 about a Moscow real estate deal.
Anthony Cormier, half of the reporting duo behind the story, told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that his sources are “solid” and that he was confident their information would be proven accurate over time.
“I’m solid. My sources are solid,” Cormier told host Brian Stelter. “This is going to be borne out, Brian. This story is accurate.”
Stelter asked Cormier about the possibility that his sources are wrong.
“They’re not,” Cormier responded. “They’re not. I’m confident.”
The report, published Thursday, cited two unidentified federal law enforcement officials who said Trump had told Cohen to lie in his testimony to Congress in August and October 2017 about negotiations involving a Trump Tower deal in Moscow.
Trump also supported Cohen’s suggestion that he personally meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 election to galvanize negotiations, according to the BuzzFeed report.
In a rare statement, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office disputed the accuracy of BuzzFeed’s report, though did not describe which specific passages it took issue with. Mueller is leading the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice.
“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,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s team, said in a statement.
Cormier and BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith encouraged Mueller’s office to specify which statements they felt were “not accurate.”
“We are eager to understand which characterizations Mueller is talking about and obviously we take that incredibly seriously,” Smith said. “We haven’t heard where the gap is and where we can continue our reporting to close it.”
Cormier denied Stelter’s request for more information about the two sources cited in the report, but noted that the reporting team continues to stand by the information.
“I have further confirmation that this is right,” Cormier said. “We’re being told to stand our ground. Our reporting is going to be borne out to be accurate, and we’re 100 percent behind it.”
“I can’t talk about the timing about when we’ve spoken to people,” he added. “But I can tell you that, yes, indeed the same sources that we used in that story are standing behind it ― as are we.”
BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold, who co-authored the report with Cormier, told MSNBC on Friday that evidence in the story corroborated earlier reports he has written on Trump’s Moscow project.
“We obtained every single text message Michael Cohen exchanged with Felix Sater on the project. In those text messages, he’s discussing briefing Trump,” Leopold said, referring to the onetime Trump adviser who proposed giving Putin an apartment in the Moscow tower.
Stelter on Sunday criticized a “shockingly casual” email Leopold sent to the special counsel’s office requesting comment on the report’s shocking findings just hours before it published Thursday. Carr, the spokesman, had declined Leopold’s request for comment minutes later.
“Do you think that was an appropriate and sufficient way to ask for comment?” Stelter asked Cormier and Smith.
“I know [Peter Carr] has said that he wished had the email come in more formal with more detail, that he would have responded in more detail,” Smith said. “We would love to have gotten more detail from him.”
Stelter pushed back, “But come on, one paragraph? That’s a dereliction of duty.”
“Mr. Carr is a lovely spokesperson,” Cormier said. “We know him. We’ve dealt with him in the past on numerous occasions. It’s never been my experience to get any kind of signal, wave-off, go-ahead through the special counsel’s office through that spokesperson.”