White House press secretary Sarah Sanders took aim at BuzzFeed on Friday, calling their report Thursday night that said President Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a possible Trump Tower Moscow project “categorically false”
“Look, it’s ridiculous. As the president’s outside council put in a statement earlier today, and they said, and I think this sums it up perfectly – it’s categorically false,” Sanders told Fox News host Jesse Watters in an interview to air Saturday.
“I think BuzzFeed has about as much credibility as Michael Cohen, considering both of these individuals and outlets have put out and advocated for a fake dirty dossier. BuzzFeed, and Michael Cohen is a known and admitted liar. I don’t think these are any two people I’m going to look for in the credibility department.”
Sanders’ comment arises from speculation that the story came to BuzzFeed by way of Cohen, which the piece’s authors, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, have denied.
The piece sent shockwaves online when it broke, with Washington Post among several saying the story could be the smoking gun tying President Trump to criminal activity. Critics questioned the anonymous sourcing and conflicting reports about whether the reporters on the story had actually seen the evidence or were relying on accounts from sources.
Jason Leopold’s past missteps as a journalist also made the rounds, including a piece he wrote for Salon in 2002, which the website retracted after accusations of plagiarism. There was also a 2006 Columbia Journalism Review piece accusing him of fabricating sources. A full catalog of his checkered past was published by CNN’s Oliver Darcy on Friday.
On Friday, BuzzFeed issued a defense of both Leopold and the story, telling TheWrap that they stood behind both 100 percent.
“Jason is one of the best journalists in the world, and he has proven it, with reporting that’s been months ahead of developments in the Mueller investigation. His and Anthony’s work has been proven to be true at every turn – and it’s interesting that these personal attacks are surfacing only now, as the facts become more dangerous for the individuals involved. BuzzFeed News stands by this story 100%.”