The morning after an explosive BuzzFeed report that President Donald Trump directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, a White House spokesman repeatedly refused to deny the allegations on Fox News.
White House representative Hogan Gidley attempted to defuse the damage of the Thursday night report, which noted specifically that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He attacked the credibility of Cohen and BuzzFeed, but when pressed by Fox anchors Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith on whether the report was true, he would not answer the question.
“The president refuses to give any credence or credibility to news outlets because they have no ability to corroborate anything they’re putting out there,” Gidley responded after one attempt to get an answer. “Instead, they’re using innuendo and shady sources.”
Hemmer responded: “That was not a denial of my question.”
Gidley went on to say that the “premise is ridiculous.” When asked yet again by Smith if it was true or false that Trump directed Cohen to lie, Gidley insisted, “I’m not going to give any credence or credibility to Michael Cohen, who’s a convicted felon and an admitted liar.”
BuzzFeed’s bombshell report by Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold cites “two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter” and also indicates that Trump supported another plan, set up by Cohen, “to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations.”
The response to the report has been overwhelming, with many Democratic lawmakers calling for Trump’s impeachment or resignation.
Trump tweeted on Friday morning, claiming Cohen was one of the sources for the report, despite Cormier and Leopold making very clear that Cohen was not.
Cormier appeared on BuzzFeed’s show AM2DM on Friday after the tweet and said: “It’s fucking bullshit, man. Read the story. Michael Cohen is not a source. He wouldn’t comment to me.”
Gidley appeared on Fox News later Friday morning to do damage control by attacking the source.
“This is absolutely ludicrous that we are giving any kind of credence or credibility to a news outlet like BuzzFeed,” the spokesman said.
“They are responsible completely and totally for the release of a discredited, disproven, false dossier,” he added referring to the infamous Steele dossier published by BuzzFeed in 2017, which included unverified allegations about Trump’s ties with Russia. The dossier has not been discredited.
“And, now, the author of the piece in question that you’re talking about went on air this morning and said he couldn’t corroborate any of his own evidence,” Gidley continued. “He ran it anyway. This is, quite frankly, the problem with the press and why the president continues to call them fake news repeatedly. Because there is nothing in that piece that can be corroborated.”
When Hemmer explained that Cormier and Leopold did not specifically see the evidence but relied on trusted sources, Gidley pressed on.
“Right, but that’s not news. That’s something he sees and puts out there. It’s the same reason and rationale behind the dossier that has caused this entire fake witch hunt Russia investigation,” Gidley said, repeating Trump’s frequent false claim that the dossier was the basis for the special counsel’s Russia investigation.
“We’re used to it,” he added.