BuzzFeed Says Donald Trump Heading Towards Impeachment

Just after 10:00 PM ET last Thursday evening, BuzzFeed News published a bombshell of a story.

Maybe bombshell is not even a strong enough word?

The story has the potential to be the Russia investigation’s version of Woodward & Bernstein’s Watergate exclusive that forced President Richard Nixon from office.

Yes, the BuzzFeed story is the kind of investigative discovery that leads to the President of the United States tendering his resignation and skulking out of the White House in shame. If it is accurate.

The authors claimed to have been told by two separate federal law enforcement sources that President Donald Trump personally ordered his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, a lie Cohen was subsequently convicted for and sentenced to prison.

Most importantly, the article claims the law enforcement sources stated they were personally aware of proof in the form of Trump Organization documents, emails, witness interviews, and text messages and that the proof was currently in the possession of the Special Counsel’s Office.

House Democrats immediately began clamoring for verification of the details and claims made in the article and expressed their intention to immediately begin impeachment hearings should the reporting prove accurate.

The White House denied the allegation and, as is their standard behavior, attacked Michael Cohen despite his not even being named as a source for the article.

President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested anyone gullible enough to believe Michael Cohen at this point falls into the range of rubes who might be conned into buying the Brooklyn Bridge.

Friday evening, spokesman Peter Carr issued a statement on behalf of the Special Counsel’s Office:

“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.”

Ben Smith, Editor in Chief of BuzzFeed News followed with a statement of his own:

“In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel’s spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”

Clearly, that is not going to happen. The Special Counsel’s Office is not going to play fact-checker for BuzzFeed.

But maybe digging a little deeper into the backgrounds of those involved can shed some light on things and make it a little easier to determine who might be telling the truth?

Anthony Cormier, co-author of the BuzzFeed article, won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Jason Leopold, his co-author, is 2018 Pulitzer finalist for international reporting.

These are NOT lightweights form a gossip site who would publish a click-bait article without vetting all details.

Peter Carr is a Utah native who previously served as press secretary for Senator Orrin Hatch, one of President Trump’s strongest defenders in the Senate before his retirement this year.

Carr was appointed by President Trump to be the spokesperson for the Department of Justice in 2017 before transitioning to his role as spokesperson for the Special Counsel’s Office.

As with all Department of Justice employees, Carr answers to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, another vocal Trump defender and appointee.

Here’s the thing about that Special Counsel’s statement, though:

Peter Carr has earned a pretty telling nickname during his time at the Department of Justice and the Office of the Special Counsel:

Mr. No Comment.

Yes, his desk and his phone are where reporter’s questions typically go to die.

There is a saying that in Washington, Carr may be the most quoted person despite saying absolutely nothing.

Word is the guy would not even offer a comment on the weather if he were standing in the rain without an umbrella.

But despite the thousands of articles and millions (or billions) of words written over the last three years about Donald Trump and Russia and the Mueller Investigation…not ONE time has the Special Counsel’s Office had more than two words to say on the subjects.

Because the only two words they ever offer are, “No comment.”

What was different this time? Why the need for the Special Counsel’s Office to issue a statement this time?

Any chance Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker ordered Carr to find something wrong with the BuzzFeed article and to issue a statement denouncing it?

Remember, President Trump and his henchman Stephen Miller once drafted a letter to justify the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey.

White House counsel Donald McGahn blocked Trump from delivering that letter, citing its its angry and meandering tone.

Donald Trump, angry and meandering? Really?

Instead, Trump gave the letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and ordered Rosenstein to use that original letter as the base with which to craft a termination letter for Comey which would meet with McGahn’s approval. Rosenstein did as he was told, crafting a Comey termination letter using Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as justification.

Is it really that much of a stretch to believe that President Trump would have called Matthew Whitaker or that Whitaker might have taken the initiative on his own, and that Carr’s letter was a partisan smokescreen designed to undercut a story which could lead to Trump’s resignation or imprisonment?

After all, what’s the worst that happens in the aftermath of Carr’s statement? Robert Mueller gets angry and quits?

Let’s go back and re-read the Carr statement?

“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.”

Note, the statement reads “not accurate” and not “false”.

In other words, if BuzzFeed wrote that President Trump “instructed” Michael Cohen to lie, when in fact it was an “order” given by an employer to his employee, the statement reading “instructed” would not be accurate in literal sense.

But it would not only still be true, it would be WORSE for the President than the way BuzzFeed reported it.

There are inaccuracies, misrepresentations, alternative truths, and even some outright lies offered-up to readers every day disguised as truth. It is incumbent upon writers and spokespeople to offer the truth to the best of their knowledge and ability and for the readers to hold those information providers accountable when they mislead.

We are stuck in the trap President Trump set by spending the last three years attacking the press, the FBI, and the Justice Department, and by appointing partisan hacks to critical positions.

There was a time the word of the Attorney General or the spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office would be beyond question.

There was a time the press took their responsibilities to accuracy and the truth so seriously that outlets would rather get scooped than make a mistake and be forced to offer a retraction.

Now, sadly, we have to weight what we read and try to parse who is least likely to be lying to us?

I don’t have the proof to be able to say one way or the other who is shooting straight this time.

You can reach your own conclusions, but I lean towards BuzzFeed.

One one side are a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Pulitzer Prize nominee who sat on a story for almost a full year seeking more details, more corroboration, filling in all the little gaps to ensure that when the time comes to publish their case is air-tight. These guys are risking their reputations and their careers, and BuzzFeed is risking its credibility.

What is their upside if the story was so easy to debunk that it did not survive 24 hours?

And please, don’t say “clicks” on the their website. As an author who has published on plenty of sites where my paycheck depended on “clicks” I can assure you that is not the case.

An editor is not going to fatten my bottom line by printing lies.

And as of August 2018, BuzzFeed was generating 9 billion content views per month.

NINE BILLION.

You just do not publish a single story that could jeopardize that revenue stream in order to get a one-day blip in clicks.

On the other side, there is President Donald Trump, a man who risks joining Richard Nixon as political punchline if the BuzzFeed story is true. And there is Matthew Whitaker, swindler, partisan, and Trump loyalist. And there is Peter Carr, a man perhaps as partisan as Whitaker of perhaps just following orders so long as he can issue statements vague enough to not be lies?

The BuzzFeed article was not proof of President Trump’s guilt and the statement from the Special Counsel’s office was not an exoneration.

History will prove who was wrong and who was right, who was lying and who was telling the truth. Just be patient.

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