Asked by Fox News Friday morning to respond to a new report from BuzzFeed that claims President Donald Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his intentions to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley refused to give an outright denial.
Presented with the allegations, Gidley replied, “This is absolutely ludicrous that we are giving any type of credence or credibility to a ‘news outlet’ like BuzzFeed”—yes, he put scare quotes around “news outlet”—“They are responsible completely and totally for the release of a discredited, disproven, false dossier.” He was referring to the Steele dossier, of which “more and more” has been proven true over time.
“This is, quite frankly, the problem with the press and why the president continues to call them ‘fake news’ repeatedly,” Gidley added. When he claimed that the authors of the BuzzFeed piece could not “corroborate” their reporting, Fox host Bill Hemmer interrupted him to explain that they have simply said they did not view the evidence with their own eyes but rather relied on anonymous law enforcement sources.
(Update: After this story posted, Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a statement that said “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.” BuzzFeed said it is “continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.”)
Gidley continued to complain about “fake news” and “negative” coverage of the president, adding, “This is just another in a long line of ridiculous charges without any corroboration or credibility whatsoever,” but would not give a straight answer on whether the central allegation in the BuzzFeed story was true or false.
“So you’re saying the president did not tell Michael Cohen to do that?” Hemmer asked.
“I’m telling you right now this is exactly why the president refuses to give any credence or credibility to news outlets,” Gidley answered, “because they have no ability to corroborate anything they’re putting out there. Instead they are just using innuendo and shady sources.”
“That was not a denial of my question,” Hemmer said.
“No, but the premise is ridiculous,” Gidley said, still not denying the facts. “We’re also talking about a person in Michael Cohen, who quite frankly has now been proven to be a liar. He self-admits that he’s a felon. So to give him any credibility, it just doesn’t warrant any response from the White House or this president.”
Given one more chance to say whether it’s “true or false” that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, Gidley would only say, “Right, but the president’s attorneys have already addressed this,” before once again calling Cohen’s “credibility” into question.
Similarly, when asked to respond to the story on Fox Business Network, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway refused to deny the details, instead pointing to President Trump’s tweet that questioned Cohen’s credibility. “The president weighed in on this on Twitter this morning, so I’ll refer you to that,” she said curtly.
Hemmer ended his segment with Gidley by reminding viewers that Cohen will have a chance once again to tell his side of the story, under oath, before Congress on Feb. 7.