A key House Democratic lawmaker warned Thursday evening that a BuzzFeed report accusing President Trump of suborning perjury is “among the most serious [charges] to date.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and the new chairman of the House intelligence committee, retweeted the BuzzFeed article, which said Mr. Trump personally told his longtime fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his Moscow Tower project.
“The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,” Mr. Schiff wrote on Twitter.
“We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true,” he warned.
Other Democrats were quick to call for blood Thursday evening.
“If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached,” wrote Rep. Joaquin Castro, Texas Democrat and member of the House intelligence committee.
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to both chambers’ intelligence committees about the plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, saying it had been scrapped earlier than it had been. This was done, according to special counsel Robert Mueller, in a bid to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”
“Individual 1” almost certainly refers to Mr. Trump.
BuzzFeed reported Thursday, citing “two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter,” that Cohen told Mr. Mueller that the instruction to lie came after the election and from the president personally.
According to BuzzFeed, Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors learned of the instruction “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”
Cohen confirmed those instructions in an interview when confronted with this evidence, according to BuzzFeed.
Some conservatives also were floored.
“Trump’s only hope now is that the BuzzFeed story is wrong,” warned John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine.
Added Fox News contributor Guy Benson, “if it is true … that is an enormous problem for this presidency.”
Lead Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani told reporters that he hadn’t examined the BuzzFeed article, but “if you believe Cohen, I can get you a good all-cash deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
The sourcing also presents an opportunity for Mr. Trump’s defenders.
Before Mr. Trump was inaugurated, BuzzFeed made the unusual decision to print in its entirety the notorious Steele dossier, a Democratic-funded piece of opposition research that made numerous unsubstantiated Russia-sourced claims about Mr. Trump, some of them pornographic.
Lanny Davis, attorney for Cohen, reacted by essentially declining to comment.
“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,” he said in a statement.