BuzzFeed’s latest Trump-Russia collusion hit claims that President Trump directed Michael Cohen, his former attorney, to lie to Congress about a prospective building project in Moscow. The felonious allegation has spun the legacy media into a full-on frenzy. It is perhaps the biggest Trump-Russia story since The Guardian published an evidence-free claim (which turned out to be bogus) that short-lived Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort recently met on multiple occasions in London with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Media pundits, leftist partisans in and out of government, and NeverTrumpers are citing the latest BuzzFeed article as evidence that the president committed a felony in lying to Congress and therefore that impeachment proceedings must begin at once.
It’s time to pump the brakes on that insanity. Here’s why you should take a cautious approach to BuzzFeed’s latest production.
All anonymous sources, no documentary evidence
There is not one on-the-record source. Nor is there a single physical document provided to back up the claims made in the piece. It relies wholly on the spoken word of “two federal law enforcement officials,” who may or may not have a political axe to grind against the president, and documents that may or may not exist. We have to rely entirely on the credibility of not only the reporters who transcribed the claims, but the officials who hide under the cover of anonymity.
“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,” the report claims, adding that “Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.”
Notably, none of these emails, memos, texts, or documents make it into the story.
Michael Cohen is a serial liar
Much of the BuzzFeed story relies on the apparent claims of Michael Cohen, who will soon be going to jail for his history as a serial criminal fraudster.
Michael Cohen clearly has a serious credibility problem. Last month, he pleaded guilty to defrauding banks and lying to the government about his taxes, resulting in years of upcoming jail time for the former Trump associate. Moreover, one of the president’s current attorneys, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has accused Michael Cohen of being a “pathological liar.”
When Cohen registered his guilty plea last month, he claimed that his lies were a result of his “blind loyalty” to the president, not that he was told to lie. Cohen never claimed that he was “directed” to lie. If the BuzzFeed article has the truth, then Cohen apparently lied in his guilty plea.
Moreover, the story quotes President Trump telling Michael Cohen to “make it happen” concerning the Moscow project and a personal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The third-hand “make it happen” quote is sourced to the two anonymous officials, who appear to be relying on complete hearsay from Michael Cohen.
Reporter has admitted to not seeing any of the evidence
In a CNN interview this morning, BuzzFeed reporter Anthony Cormier openly admitted that he has not seen a single piece of evidence to corroborate his report.
Asked whether he had seen any of the evidence put forward in his own report, Cormier replied, “not personally,” but insisted that “the folks we have talked to … are fully, 100 percent read into that aspect of the Special Counsel’s investigation.”
The “Moscow Project” never came close to a reality
The BuzzFeed story insists that “negotiations” over a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow “occupy an important place in Mueller’s investigation, as agents try to learn whether it is connected to the Kremlin’s interference campaign and whom Trump associates were in contact with to close the deal.”
The much-hyped Trump building proposal in Russia was just that – a proposal. Nothing was built. There was no contract signed.
Prior to his presidential run, Donald Trump had long considered bringing his business enterprises to Russia, which is not illegal, nor particularly uncommon for major corporations such as the Trump Organization. BuzzFeed and the Mueller special counsel have attempted to position the “Moscow Project” as a puzzle piece in a conspiracy that proves the president colluded with Russia, when in fact, the project never amounted to anything and there is nothing particularly abnormal about a real estate developer attempting to legally expand his business horizons.
Co-author of story has a fake news past
Jason Leopold, whose name appeared first on the byline of the story, has a serious credibility problem.
The Columbia Journalism Review has documented that Leopold has been “caught making stuff up” on more than one occasion and “had his own memoir cancelled because of concerns over the accuracy of quotations.”
No Trump-Russia collusion evidence has ever emerged
Many in the media are pointing to BuzzFeed’s “scoop” as evidence to sustain their conspiracy theory that President Trump is compromised by the Russian government and that he colluded with Moscow to win the 2016 presidential election.
Not a single piece of evidence has emerged to show that the Russian government impacted a single vote. Putting aside the preposterous collusion allegations, no evidence has surfaced that President Trump has even the most remote personal or business ties to the Russian government.
Not fit for publication
The BuzzFeed story bases its main claims on hearsay and conjecture. The reporters who wrote the piece admitted that they did not see any of the evidence, and there are no on-the-record sources to verify these claims. It also relies on the hearsay of a convicted criminal liar. The piece would not meet the editorial standards for publication at Conservative Review.