The Slatest

BuzzFeed Reporter Defends Story as “Solid” and “Accurate” Despite Pushback From Mueller

A BuzzFeed News logo adorns a wall inside BuzzFeed headquarters, December 11, 2018 in New York City.
A BuzzFeed News logo adorns a wall inside BuzzFeed headquarters, December 11, 2018 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

BuzzFeed is continuing to stand by its explosive story that claims President Donald Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to open a Trump Tower in Moscow. Anthony Cormier, one of the authors of the piece, said on CNN that the story was “solid” and he was confident that history would prove him right. “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,” Cormier told CNN’s Brian Stelter.

Cormier defended the piece days after the special counsel’s office decided to respond with an unprecedented statement pushing back against the piece. “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,” Peter Carr, the special counsel’s spokesman, wrote.

When Stelter wondered whether Cormier’s sources could be wrong, Cormier said that wasn’t a possibility. “They’re not,” he said. “They’re not. I’m confident.” Cormier said he had received “further confirmation that this is right” although he refused to elaborate who told him that or the identity of his sources. Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed News, said he is eager to get more details from the special counsel’s office on what portions of the story they’re disputing as inaccurate. “We are eager to understand which characterizations Mueller is talking about and obviously we take that incredibly seriously,” Smith said. “We haven’t heard where the gap is and where we can continue our reporting to close it.”

Stelter also focused on whether BuzzFeed had done enough to seek comment from Mueller’s team on the story before publishing. A piece in the Washington Post published Saturday claims the special counsel’s office was surprised by the details included in the BuzzFeed report. Had Carr known that the story would claim Cohen told the special counsel that Trump ordered him to lie, he would have discouraged reporters from proceeding with the story, sources told the Post.