“In this instance involving Cohen’s false testimony to Congress…an apparently incorrect story about the president’s complicity was damning — so much so that many Democrats and pundits had the president on the verge of being removed from office. The president was in a position of dealing with this profound political damage while trying to address a border-security emergency; a government shutdown; the status of American forces in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan; and various other vital matters.”
(Andrew C. McCarthy – National Review) BuzzFeed published an explosive allegation that the president of the United States ordered his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to congressional committees investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. …
Specifically, in a news story sourced to two anonymous law-enforcement officials said to be “involved in an investigation of the matter,” the site reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had learned, though multiple witnesses and documents, of President Trump’s alleged instruction to Cohen; subsequently, upon being confronted by prosecutors, Cohen had supposedly admitted that Trump gave the order.
As a rule, Mueller does not comment on press reports about his probe. Yet, in a highly unusual move Friday night, the prosecutor refuted the story by reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier. Through a spokesman, Mueller asserted:
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.
Clearly, Mueller did the right thing. The reporting had triggered a frenzy of commentary by Trump critics that impeachment was imminent, and even many chagrined Trump supporters conceded that, if the report was true, the presidency was in grave peril. Had Mueller stood idly by, the administration, and thus the governance of the nation, would have been engulfed in a ruinous storm of suspicion. It is not the special counsel’s job to correct bad reporting, but it would have been irresponsible to stay mum in these circumstances if the story was false.