A bombshell report from Buzzfeed has revealed that president Trump "directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow." Reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier spoke with two federal law enforcement officials involved in investigating the matter, and revealed that:
"Trump also supported a 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. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen."
This happened despite Trump telling the public he had no business dealings with Russia. The Buzzfeed report continued:
The sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen’s false claim that the project ended in January 2016 was an attempt to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1” — widely understood to be Trump — “in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”
Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
The law enforcement sources also said that Trump "had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the campaign."
To be clear, instructing someone to lie to Congress is not only illegal, but an impeachable offense. If there is corroborating evidence that Trump instructed Cohen to lie about Trump's involvement in the deal, then Congress must move to impeach Trump immediately. This seems to be gaining serious traction amongst Democrats. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted the following response in the wake of the story:
The gravity of the charges laid out in the Buzzfeed story now mean that the House now has to begin exploring impeachment proceedings. As Charles Pierce in GQ argues, this should happen regardless of the Mueller investigation:
The systems necessarily to decide whether or not to get rid of a president can work in ultimate (if uneasy) harmony, and all of them can accomplish their independent missions. Waiting For Mueller is now an unacceptable and inadequate response from the national legislature. Mueller's job is to see if the president* and his minions should go to jail. The House's job is to determine if the president* should not be the president* anymore. Jaworski sent John Mitchell to prison. John Doar sent Richard Nixon home. Both outcomes were just, even with the Gerry Ford ex machina of the Nixon pardon.
Trump has of course denied the story, calling Cohen a liar who cannot be trusted -- but this has no meaning whatsoever given the president's extraordinary history of making false statements. Given Trump's new Attorney General nominee Bill Barr has refused to say whether he would commit to making the Mueller investigation findings available to Congress, the need to start impeachment proceedings is now urgent.
Jason Leopold told MSNBC that he and Anthony Cormier have "seen documents. We have been briefed on documents. We are very confident in our reporting."
Unless they are lying about what they have seen, things are about to get very, very interesting.