President Trump and his defenders are spiking the football as if they were heading to the Super Bowl after the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III publicly disputed a BuzzFeed report that Trump had instructed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump even went so far as to thank Mueller for “coming out with a statement,” saying, “I very much appreciate that.”
Yes, this is the same Mueller whom Trump disparages as the leader of 13 or 17 (the number varies) “Angry Democrats” who are engaged in a “WITCH HUNT!” Turns out that Mueller is not engaged in a witch hunt but a fact hunt. His willingness to set the record straight even when it helps Trump indicates his fundamental integrity — something that Trump implicitly admits by citing Mueller as an impartial authority.
But Trump should not take too much solace from Mueller’s cryptic correction. BuzzFeed may well have been wrong in writing that Trump personally told Cohen to lie (although the publication still stands by its article). But Cohen himself admitted in his sentencing plea that his lie to Congress was “in accordance with Client-1’s directives.” So while the special counsel’s team might not have evidence that Trump personally told Cohen to lie, it’s not disputing Cohen’s claim that his false testimony was coordinated with Trump’s aides in furtherance of the president’s own lies.
Trump has repeatedly denied doing business with Russia. Now his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, admits that Client-1 was pursuing a Trump Tower project in Moscow through the fall of 2016 — in other words, long after it was common knowledge that the Russians were hacking Democratic Party computers. Trump might just have dodged accusations that he actively suborned perjury, but what he did was bad enough — he concealed his business dealings with a hostile foreign power that was helping him to win the presidency. That BuzzFeed might have gotten some part of the story wrong hardly exonerates Trump.
While BuzzFeed’s disputed report does make the rest of the press look bad by association, we should remember how much the media have gotten right. Thanks to intrepid reporting we know that the Trump campaign tried to change the language of the Republican platform to be less critical of Russia; that Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, got millions of dollars from pro-Russian oligarchs in Ukraine; that Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had secret conversations with the Russian ambassador and then lied to the FBI; that Trump pressured FBI Director James B. Comey to shut down the investigation of Flynn; that Trump told Russian diplomats that firing “nut job” Comey eased pressure on Russia; that the high command of the Trump campaign met with a Russian representative promising dirt on Hillary Clinton; that Trump repeatedly tried to fire Mueller; that Trump tried to hide details of his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin from his own aides; and that the FBI investigated Trump as a possible Russian asset. Continue: Trump should not take solace from Mueller’s cryptic correction – The Washington Post