Special counsel Robert Mueller's office issued a rare public rebuke on Friday of elements of a stunning report alleging that President Donald Trump directed his former legal counsel to lie in sworn congressional testimony about the president's involvement in a Russian real estate deal.
In a development that sent shock waves through the political world, BuzzFeed News published a bombshell report that cited two unnamed federal law enforcement sources saying that the president directed Michael Cohen, his ex-lawyer, to lie about plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign to discuss the Trump Tower proposal.
Yet in a statement provided to CNBC, Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, said that "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."
Reached by CNBC, Cohen's spokesman, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.
It was not immediately clear which parts of the BuzzFeed story the special counsel's office was disputing, but the statement itself constituted a rare public intervention into reporting about the wide-ranging probe that's engulfed the White House. It also raised the stakes on a story that lawmakers, legal analysts and reporters all agreed was, if true, potentially one of the most damaging of Trump's entire presidency.
For its part, BuzzFeed steadfastly defended its reporting, and called upon the special counsel's office to clarify what parts of the story it was disputing. Prior to publication, BuzzFeed reached out to Mueller's office, and a spokesman declined to comment.