Thursday night saw the release of one of the most devastating stories about Donald Trump to date. Buzzfeed reported that Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was directed by the President to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. If confirmed, that would be an airtight case against Trump for suborning perjury and obstructing justice – both impeachable offenses.
So on Friday morning Trump dispatched his Deputy Press Secretary, Hogan Gidley, to what he surely assumed was the friendly territory of Fox News. However, his interview went skidding of the rails when the Fox co-hosts uncharacteristically asked him some probing questions. In the process, Gidley conspicuously avoided answering those questions and refused to even deny the allegations in the Buzzfeed report. This exchange is going to leave some visible bruises on Trump – and perhaps on Gidley as well after Trump sees it (video below):
Sandra Smith: The story coming from Buzzfeed on the President ordering Michael Cohen to lie…sources two law enforcement officials. This is the headline. Breaking: President Trump personally orders his longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in order to obscure his involvement. How is the President responding to that report this morning?
Gidley: This is absolutely ludicrous that we are giving any type of credence or credibility to a news outlet like BuzzFeed. They are responsible, totally and completely, for the release of a discredited, disproven, false dossier. And now the author of the piece that you’re talking about went on air this morning and said he couldn’t corroborate any of his own evidence. He ran it anyway. This is quite frankly the problem with the press and why the President continues to call them ‘fake news’ repeatedly. There is nothing in that piece that can be corroborated.
First of all, notice that this reply was not a denial. Also, Gidley is incorrect that Buzzfeed was responsible for the infamous Steele Dossier. They simply published it after it had already circulated through the White House and the Department of Justice. And he’s lying as to the dossier being disproved. Nothing in the Dossier has been proven false, while much of it has been confirmed.
Furthermore, the Buzzfeed author didn’t say that he couldn’t corroborate his story. He only said that he didn’t see the corroborating documents, a point that Fox’s Bill Hemmer made saying that “I think the way it was characterized – the reporter did not see specifically see the evidence, but relied on one or two sources that they had trusted to this.” Gidley fumbled in an attempt to form a coherent reply and settled for just saying that “That’s not news,” and resorting to Trump’s catch phrase about “the fake Witch Hunt Russia investigation.” So Hemmer pressed him to give a more direct response to the original question about whether Trump ordered Cohen to lie:
Hemmer: You’re saying the President did not tell Michael Cohen to do that?
Gidley: I’m telling you right now this is exactly why the President refuses to give any credence or credibility to news outlets. Because they have no ability to corroborate anything they’re putting out there. Instead they’re just using innuendo and shady sources.
Hemmer: That was not a denial of my question.
Gidley: No. But the premise is ridiculous.
Once again, Gidley evaded the question. And even after Hemmer called him out on it explicitly, Gidley outright admitted that he was not offering a denial. Then he segued to a strategy of smearing his accuser, saying that Cohen is a liar and a felon. That’s true, but what Gidley isn’t saying (or denying) is that Cohen lied under orders from Trump. And then he is given one more opportunity to defend the President and deny the allegations against him:
Smith: But the headline in that report is the President personally directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations involving that Trump Tower. Is that true or false?
Gidley: Right. But the President’s attorney has also addressed this. I’m not gonna give any credence or credibility to Michael Cohen who’s a convicted felon and an admitted liar.
So Gidley’s response to whether the Buzzfeed story is true or false is “Right.” Really? When the President’s own spokesperson resorts to dodges like “I’m not gonna give any credence,” to charges that the President suborned perjury and obstructed justice, there’s a good reason. And it’s usually because the story is true. But let’s not be too hard on Gidley. After all, his boss couldn’t even deny the allegations in his response on Twitter:
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
For as long as Trump has been under investigation for what he calls “this Russia thing,” he has behaved exactly the way you would expect a guilty person to act. The same is true for his defenders in the White House and the media. So there’s no reason to expect them to act any differently now. And judging by this pathetic performance by Gidley, they aren’t. With each passing day, and with each new revelation, it becomes increasingly clear that Trump is headed for prosecution and impeachment. And it can’t come too soon.
UPDATE: The Special Counsel’s office has issued a statement saying 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.” This statement doesn’t identify what precisely they are disputing, but it does say that it is specific, rather than applying broadly to the article’s main points. And Buzzfeed’s authors and editor-in-chief stand by their reporting.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Uh-Oh: In this Fox News clip, Donald Trump's Deputy Press Secretary, Hogan Gidley, repeatedly refused to deny that Trump told his former attorney to lie to Congress, as reported by Buzzfeed. #ImpeachTrump pic.twitter.com/S53HybjDwc
— News Corpse (@NewsCorpse) January 18, 2019