On Thursday night, Buzzfeed broke a massive story claiming that President Donald Trump instructed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress when asked about Trump’s plan to build a tower in Moscow, and White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley isn’t exactly denying it.
Trump was hoping to go to Russia during the campaign and meet with Putin, intending to have a conversation that would help get his project off the ground. All the while, the president repeatedly claimed that he had no business involvement with Russia — at his first press conference after he was elected, Trump said, “I have no dealings with Russia.”
Cohen eventually pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, but the Buzzfeed report is the first sign that Trump directed him to lie to lawmakers.
The story sent shockwaves through Washington. Only last week, Trump’s Attorney General nominee William Barr told Senators that if Trump instructed one of his subordinates to lie to lawmakers, it would be obstruction of justice.
While Trump lashed about on Twitter, calling Michael Cohen a fraud and seemingly threatening Cohen’s father-in-law, the White House presented Gidley to speak to the media.
Gidley was interviewed on Fox News, where he refused to answer whether the Buzzfeed report was true or false.
At first, Gidley said, “This is why the president refused to give any credence to news outlets.” When asked again, he said, “The premise is ridiculous.” And finally, he dodged again saying, “I’m not going to give any credence or credibility to Michael Cohen.”
Here’s the clip:
Asked 3 times to say Trump didn't direct Cohen to lie, Gidley doesn't
Hemmer: You are saying the president did not tell Michael Cohen to do that.
Gidley: This is why the president refuses to give credence to news outlets
H: That was not a denial
G: The premise is ridiculous pic.twitter.com/KdALtLVdJE
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) January 18, 2019
It’s unclear what the next step might be for the White House. Cohen has already been sentenced to three years in prison and has flipped on Trump.
But Cohen’s role in the Trump story is still not over, he’s slated to testify before the House Oversight Committee in early February and that appearance is sure to be a wild ride.