russia investigation

Mueller Disputes BuzzFeed Report That Trump Ordered Cohen to Perjure Himself

An unexpected public statement from the special counsel. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Friday night, the special counsel issued a rare public statement, disputing the BuzzFeed News report that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a tower in Moscow. “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,” said Peter Carr, spokesman for the Mueller investigation. It appears to be the first time the special counsel has publicly contested a news account, casting doubt on a major collusion break that had some Democrats talking potential obstruction of justice charges.

On Twitter, journalists weighed the details of the Mueller investigation’s decision to break radio silence and comment on the report — almost 24 hours after its initial publication in which they issued a “no comment.” Reporter Peter Sterne posed three possible options for the contention: There are minor inconsistencies in the report; it’s substantively incorrect; or it
correctly depicts what Cohen told federal prosecutors in a different office, like the Southern District of New York. Ronan Farrow, who broke the story of Trump’s alleged affair with Karen McDougal, tweeted that he “declined to run with parts of the narrative they conveyed based on a source central to the story repeatedly disputing the idea that Trump directly issued orders of that kind.” Additionally, the New York Times claims that a source “familiar with Mr. Cohen’s testimony to the special counsel’s prosecutors said that Mr. Cohen did not state that the president had pressured him to lie to Congress.” BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith announced his confidence in his team’s reporting and requested that Mueller “make clear what he’s disputing.” On CNN, Smith also said that BuzzFeed was not “playing any games with the characterization” of their two federal law enforcement sources.

On Friday morning, House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff announced that the committee was “already working to secure additional witness testimony and documents related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal and other investigative matters.” (As of publication, Schiff has not given a statement on the special counsel’s update.) Before the Mueller team’s surprise announcement, Democrats were discussing “impeachment” en masse for the first time in a while, with at least four members of Congress using the word on Thursday and Friday — talk that will likely die down pending further investigation of the BuzzFeed account.

When the special counsel published its comment, Trump began retweeting takedowns of of BuzzFeed News. As New York’s Olivia Nuzzi noted, “Whatever ends up being the case about the BuzzFeed story, it sure is interesting to see the president and all of his supporters so eager to accept as fact the statement put out by the special counsel’s office.” In this case of rare camaraderie, it appears that the enemy of the “enemy of the people” is his friend.

Mueller Disputes Report That Trump Had Cohen Perjure Himself
russia investigation

Mueller Disputes BuzzFeed Report That Trump Ordered Cohen to Perjure Himself

An unexpected public statement from the special counsel. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Friday night, the special counsel issued a rare public statement, disputing the BuzzFeed News report that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a tower in Moscow. “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,” said Peter Carr, spokesman for the Mueller investigation. It appears to be the first time the special counsel has publicly contested a news account, casting doubt on a major collusion break that had some Democrats talking potential obstruction of justice charges.

On Twitter, journalists weighed the details of the Mueller investigation’s decision to break radio silence and comment on the report — almost 24 hours after its initial publication in which they issued a “no comment.” Reporter Peter Sterne posed three possible options for the contention: There are minor inconsistencies in the report; it’s substantively incorrect; or it
correctly depicts what Cohen told federal prosecutors in a different office, like the Southern District of New York. Ronan Farrow, who broke the story of Trump’s alleged affair with Karen McDougal, tweeted that he “declined to run with parts of the narrative they conveyed based on a source central to the story repeatedly disputing the idea that Trump directly issued orders of that kind.” Additionally, the New York Times claims that a source “familiar with Mr. Cohen’s testimony to the special counsel’s prosecutors said that Mr. Cohen did not state that the president had pressured him to lie to Congress.” BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith announced his confidence in his team’s reporting and requested that Mueller “make clear what he’s disputing.” On CNN, Smith also said that BuzzFeed was not “playing any games with the characterization” of their two federal law enforcement sources.

On Friday morning, House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff announced that the committee was “already working to secure additional witness testimony and documents related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal and other investigative matters.” (As of publication, Schiff has not given a statement on the special counsel’s update.) Before the Mueller team’s surprise announcement, Democrats were discussing “impeachment” en masse for the first time in a while, with at least four members of Congress using the word on Thursday and Friday — talk that will likely die down pending further investigation of the BuzzFeed account.

When the special counsel published its comment, Trump began retweeting takedowns of of BuzzFeed News. As New York’s Olivia Nuzzi noted, “Whatever ends up being the case about the BuzzFeed story, it sure is interesting to see the president and all of his supporters so eager to accept as fact the statement put out by the special counsel’s office.” In this case of rare camaraderie, it appears that the enemy of the “enemy of the people” is his friend.

Mueller Disputes Report That Trump Had Cohen Perjure Himself
THE FEED

Poking Putin’s power

The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.


In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.


Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.


But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

Public service isn’t costing Kushner and Ivanka

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner took in as much as $135 million in revenue during their second year as aides to President Trump, generated from their vast real estate holdings, stocks and bonds, and even a book deal, according to their financial disclosures released Friday. …


The disclosures released by the White House and filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics show minimum revenue for the couple of $28 million last year generated from assets valued at more than $180 million.

The protests seem to have worked, for now

Backing down after days of huge street protests, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said on Saturday that she would indefinitely suspend a bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China.


It was a remarkable reversal for Mrs. Lam, the leader installed by Beijing in 2017, who had vowed to ensure the bill’s approval and tried to get it passed on an unusually short timetable, even as hundreds of thousands demonstrated against it this past week.


But she made it clear that the bill was being delayed, not withdrawn outright, as protesters have demanded.

world view
world view
Trump’s Iran Accusations Put U.S. Credibility on the Line
Perhaps Iran really did attack two oil tankers. But experts are skeptical, and if the administration is crying wolf there could be dire consequences.

Infamous copyright troll gets sentenced to 14 years

A federal judge in Minneapolis has sentenced Paul Hansmeier to 14 years in prison for an elaborate fraud scheme that involved uploading pornographic videos to file-sharing networks and then threatening to sue people who downloaded them.


“It is almost incalculable how much your abuse of trust has harmed the administration of justice,” said Judge Joan Ericksen at a Friday sentencing hearing.

OLC says Trump doesn’t have to hand over his tax returns

JUST IN: Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel has posted an opinion backing Treasury’s decision not to turn over Trump tax returns to Congress. https://t.co/NgcWl8KFty pic.twitter.com/ri24VaSOpN
@mattzap
reporter, Washington Post

Trump wants an “attack dog” to be his next press secretary

Multiple sources in the president’s orbit told Yahoo News that Trump’s vision for Sanders’s replacement doesn’t involve returning to traditional White House press briefings. Instead, the sources said the president is looking for an aggressive defender to make regular television appearances. He also seems settled on having a woman fill the role: The list of top contenders to take the position is filled with five women who have on-air experience.


“This is about how you can take control of the news cycle and represent the president. … What Trump ultimately wants as the press secretary is someone who’s going to be a loyalist and an attack dog to go out there and defend him,” one source close to the president said.

Amazon is making a bid to become an essential part of America’s infrastructure

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the non-profit advocacy group Institute for Local Self Reliance, added, “This is essentially a company that’s set out to be and own the infrastructure for 21st century commerce and the shipping is another piece of that.” She cited Amazon’s current relationships with manufacturers and retailers enable it to have leverage in compelling the same businesses to use its shipping services.

More great climate news

Ice is melting in unprecedented ways as summer approaches in the Arctic. In recent days, observations have revealed a record-challenging melt event over the Greenland ice sheet, while the extent of ice over the Arctic Ocean has never been this low in mid-June during the age of weather satellites.


Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 40 degrees above normal Wednesday, while open water exists in places north of Alaska where it seldom, if ever, has in recent times.


It’s “another series of extreme events consistent with the long-term trend of a warming, changing Arctic,” said Zachary Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine.

sarah huckabee sanders
sarah huckabee sanders
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Governor of Arkansas? It’s Possible.
If the daughter of former governor Mike Huckabee does run for his old job, as Trump suggested, she’d be formidable but not necessarily unbeatable.
black lives matter
black lives matter
NYPD Union Lawyers Claim Eric Garner Would’ve Died Anyway Because He Was Obese
Daniel Pantaleo’s defense team is essentially arguing that the 43-year-old black man killed himself.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s claim that the Harriet Tubman $20 can’t be completed for at least six years seems highly dubious

In fact, work on the new $20 note began before Mr. Trump took office, and the basic design already on paper most likely could have satisfied the goal of unveiling a note bearing Tubman’s likeness on next year’s centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. An image of a new $20 bill, produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and obtained by The New York Times from a former Treasury Department official, depicts Tubman in a dark coat with a wide collar and a white scarf.


That preliminary design was completed in late 2016.


A spokeswoman for the bureau, Lydia Washington, confirmed that preliminary designs of the new note were created as part of research that was done after Jacob J. Lew, President Barack Obama’s final Treasury secretary, proposed the idea of a Tubman bill.


The development of the note did not stop there. A current employee of the bureau, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, personally viewed a metal engraving plate and a digital image of a Tubman $20 bill while it was being reviewed by engravers and Secret Service officials as recently as May 2018. This person said that the design appeared to be far along in the process.

Team Trump has lost confidence in its “all chaos, no copyeditors” strategy

President Trump’s path to a second term starts not in Florida, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, but in the pages of a corporate-style branding book developed inside a spacious and well-equipped campaign office.


The document, “Branding Guidelines for the Trump Presidential Campaign,” covers design minutiae such as font size, spacing and authorized colors—“Trump Red” and “Trump Blue” for logos, and “Trump Gold” for special occasions. It specifies which images of Mr. Trump to use to convey compassion, which to show strength and, in the case of a photo of the president pointing into the camera, when to let donors know they need to boost contributions.


Four years ago, Mr. Trump launched a first presidential bid that flouted presidential electioneering norms. His re-election campaign is looking a lot more conventional. It revolves around corporate tactics such as branding and merchandising, a direct-marketing push that relies on collecting supporters’ cellphone numbers and a data-mining operation involving a yet-to-be-released smartphone app.

endorsements
endorsements
Dershowitz ‘Could’ Vote Biden, Would Like to Be Socially Acceptable Again
Trump’s favorite attorney has previously raised concerns about being shunned by liberal elites. Just don’t ask him about that Jeffrey Epstein stuff.

People are fired up about the Democratic debate lineup

Really looking forward to Bennet & Hickenlooper really getting into exactly which variety of Colorado center-left politics is the way forward for Democrats.
@mattyglesias
Vox's Matthew Yglesias
vision 2020
vision 2020
4 of the 5 Top-Polling Democrats Land on Same Primary-Debate Night
By the luck of the draw, Elizabeth Warren will be the only high-ranking candidate appearing during night one of the first round of debates.
bernie sanders
bernie sanders
Why Does Bernie Sanders Cling to ‘Socialism’?
Intelligencer staffers discuss the pros and cons of being associated with a still-polarizing term.

This seems good for Elizabeth Warren, who is alone among marquee contenders on one of the debate nights

NEWS - the Democratic debate groups

PURPLE: bernie, harris, biden, buttigieg, bennet, williamson, swalwell gillibrand, yang, hickenlooper

ORANGE: booker, warren, beto, klobuchar, delaney, tulsi, castro, ryan, de blasio, Inslee

NBC will now decide which night goes first
@reidepstein
just asking questions
just asking questions
Governor Steve Bullock on Being Excluded From the Democrats’ First Debate
“When you look at that stage, it’s disappointing that it’s missing someone who has had success in a Trump state.”
the national interest
the national interest
Trump: Witness to My Crime Can’t Testify, But Trust Me He’s Lying
The White House’s absurd contradiction on Don McGahn.
interesting times
interesting times
Andrew Sullivan: Donald Trump and the Art of the Lie
He is a con man of surpassing brilliance and conviction — and that is a profound danger to our democracy.
vision 2020
vision 2020
Qualifiers for the First 2020 Democratic Primary Debates Announced
The roster shows the number of candidates qualifying equaling the DNC’s cap of 20. Steve Bullock is unhappy with his exclusion.

Not a great sign for GOP House prospects going into 2020

WELP.

Rep Susan Brooks, who was charged with recruiting more GOP women / PoC to run for the House in 2020, is not seeking reelection. And she didn’t tell party leadership ahead of time.

“I have no idea what they’re going to do,” she told the Indy Star. https://t.co/OXbDPiB6VK https://t.co/28dQTcL0G4
@mtredden

Yeah, like that was on the table

Would @seanspicer return to be WH Press Secy again if @POTUS asked him? “Oh, no. No. No. No. No, I’ve told the president many times I was honored to do it, but I am much more happy and relaxed and less stressful now,” he told @HallieJackson on @MSNBC.
@markknoller

Fact check: false

“Some people think I’m aggressive,” @NYGovCuomo just said on the radio. “I think I’m a laid back, cool dude in a loose mood.”
@JimmyVielkind

One of those times where it would be nice if the U.S. government had any credibility right now

One of the tankers that were attacked in the Gulf of Oman was struck by a flying object, the ship’s Japanese operator said on Friday, disputing at least part of the account of United States officials who had blamed Iran for the attack.


“Our crew said that the ship was attacked by a flying object,” said Yutaka Katada, the president of the operator, Kokuka Sangyo.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that American intelligence agencies had concluded that Tehran was behind the disabling of two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a vital conduit for much of the world’s oil. Senior American officials had already blamed Iran for similar attacks last month against four tankers in the same area. Iranian officials denied any involvement in the events, which have escalated tensions in the region.

social security
social security
Social Security Isn’t Going Broke. Older Americans Are.
Cutting benefits won’t make it easier for America to support its growing elderly population. Expanding immigration and raising taxes would.

There is almost no chance her people said that

“Her people said she hadn’t had so much fun in 25 years,” Trump claims of his time with Queen Elizabeth
@mkraju

Trump’s very charitable rundown of the 2020 field

Trump on other 2020 rivals:
–“I see that Pocahontas is doing better. I would love to run against her.”
–“They talk about Kamala, I don’t see Kamala.”
–“Mayor Pete, I don’t see at all. I think that’s a joke.”
@betsy_klein