Man, did the Donald Trump and Michael Cohen drama just take a major turn. A BuzzFeed report published on Jan. 17 claims that the president instructed his former longtime lawyer and fixer to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower project, which means the commander-in-chief allegedly suborned perjury — and it is not a small potatoes allegation. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for further comment on the allegations or the report. With that, you might be wondering: What is suborning perjury? This sounds like serious stuff.
UPDATE: In an emailed statement to Elite Daily on Friday, Jan. 18, Peter Carr, spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office, said, "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."
EARLIER: Frankly, subornation of perjury means to persuade someone to give a false testimony under oath, according to the Department of Justice, and it is very much a crime. Two unnamed law enforcement officials reportedly told BuzzFeed that investigators believe Trump did just that, by allegedly directing Cohen to tell Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended months earlier than they actually did.
If you remember, back in November of 2018, Cohen, pleaded guilty to making "false statements to Congress" regarding plans for a Trump Tower deal in Moscow, Russia, during the 2016 presidential election. Though the real estate deal was not illegal, it may provide evidence that Trump had interests in Russia while running for the White House, and there's more in the story that adds to those questions. Per the report, Trump allegedly also supported a plan to visit Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, allegedly telling Cohen, "Make it happen." The White House did not respond to requests for comment on either Cohen's claims regarding the Moscow project at the time of his guilty plea, or the most recent report. Representatives of Cohen and the special counsel's office both declined to comment on the report to Elite Daily.
As of January 2019, Trump has neither been formally accused of nor charged with any crime. However, this is arguably the most damaging allegation against the president yet, and it's blowing up the Twitterverse.
While — again — Trump has not been formally accused of any crime, this could theoretically spell serious trouble for the president. His nominee for attorney general, William Barr, spelled out his definition of obstruction in a June 2018 memo to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which sounds similar to the allegations in the BuzzFeed report. The memo said: “Thus, for example, if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction.” And presidential historian Jon Meacham pointed out on Twitter that instructing others to lie was part of the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon. Oof.
How factual is this report, though? Many people are already skeptical, worried that the allegation in the report ties everything up neatly — too neatly.
Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed back on the story, however. “If you believe Cohen I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge," said Giuliani, according to The Washington Post's Philip Rucker.
The president also responded to the report on Twitter, writing that Cohen is "lying to reduce his jail time" for several financial crimes, for which the lawyer was given a three-year sentence in December of 2018.
But the thing is, according to the report, the alleged information didn't come from Cohen. It reportedly came through "interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents." Cohen only reportedly confirmed what Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into potential collusion between Russia and members of the 2016 Trump campaign, had already discovered. Cohen's spokesperson Lanny Davis tells Elite Daily in an emailed statement on Jan. 18, “Out of respect for Mr. Mueller’s and the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation, Mr. Cohen declined to respond to the questions asked by the reporters and so do I.”
Wow, what a plot twist. For as long as this drama has been going on, it looks like this might just be the very start of it all. Stay tuned for what, if anything, comes next.