BuzzFeed is still standing by its Jan. 17 news story about Michael Cohen, Pres. Trump, and a potential Trump Tower in Moscow despite the rare public denial by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office. BuzzFeed’s sources are two anonymous “federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.”
BuzzFeed spokesperson Matt Mittenthal told iMediaEthics that “we’re standing by the story and expect to be vindicated.”
“Unlike past articles on the possible ties between Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia, however, this one was not followed by similar stories from other news organizations, who proved unable to corroborate its findings with reporting of their own,” the New York Times noted.
The news story headlined, “President Trump Directed his Attorney Michael Cohen to Lie to Congress about the Moscow Tower Project,” said Mueller’s office had found that out, and originally reported Mueller’s office declined to comment.
After publication, Mueller’s office spokesperson Peter Carr disputed that though saying, “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.”
The Washington Post noted that BuzzFeed told Carr before publication they were going to report “that Michael Cohen was directed by President Trump himself to lie to Congress about his negotiations related to the Trump Moscow project,” but didn’t say the story would reference the special counsel’s findings.
On Jan. 19, BuzzFeed spokesperson Matt Mittenthal told the Washington Post, “As we’ve reconfirmed our reporting, we’ve seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate. We remain confident in what we’ve reported, and will share more as we are able.”
On Jan. 20, one of the two BuzzFeed reporters, Anthony Cormier, told CNN’s Reliable Sources the two sources haven’t wavered and “We’re being told to stand our ground. Our reporting is going to be borne out to be accurate, and we’re 100% behind it.”
BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith says it wants more information about what exactly Mueller says is inaccurate, but told CNN “we haven’t heard where the gap is and where we can continue our reporting to close it.” iMediaEthics has written to BuzzFeed to ask if there is any new information to support its reporting in light of Mueller’s denial.