The special counsel charged with investigating Russian collusion rejected allegations published by the US news company. The report claimed Donald Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.
The office of US special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday disputed a report by American news site Buzzfeed alleging President Donald Trump had instructed his longtime lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress.
"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" said special counsel spokesman Peter Carr in a statement.
The dispute is a rare move by Mueller's office. In the contested article, Buzzfeed cited two unnamed "federal law enforcement officials" who were allegedly familiar with Cohen's testimony. The New York-based news company claimed Trump had instructed Cohen to lie "about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow."
But Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith hit back, saying: "We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing."
After retweeting a barrage of comments rejecting the Buzzfeed report by conservative allies, Trump wrote in a tweet that it was "a very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our country!" He later described so-called "fake news" as the "enemy of the people."
Trump has repeatedly claimed he "never worked for Russia."
Last month, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in making illegal hush payments to two women and lying to Congress about the proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. While asking for leniency in court, he said: "It was my duty to cover up (Trump's) dirty deeds."
Cohen had first told Mueller's office and Congress that negotiations for the Trump Tower project in Moscow had ended in January 2016. However, he later admitted that they had stretched into June 2016, after Trump had received the Republican nomination for the presidency.
Mueller's office is investigating whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to win the presidency.
ls/ (AFP, AP)