BuzzFeed News reported Thursday night that attorney Michael Cohen lied to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow on direct orders from President Donald Trump himself, according to two federal law enforcement officials. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, and he has since been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the Russia investigation.
But the BuzzFeed report, written by Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, is a bombshell because it says actual law enforcement officials allege that when Cohen committed perjury, he was following Trump’s instructions. And if the officials’ allegations are true — “if” being the operative word — it would constitute criminal activity on the president’s part.
Many prominent Democrats have been quick to respond to Leopold and Cormier’s report. Here’s what some of them have had to say.
Eric Holder chooses his words carefully. After reading the Leopold/Cormier article, the former attorney general under President Barack Obama went to Twitter on Thursday evening, January 17 and posted, “If true – big.” And Holder followed up that tweet with a longer one, asserting that William Barr (Trump’s nominee for the position he once held) and Congress will need to act quickly if the allegations are correct—and he was careful to stress the “if” part.
Holder posted, “If true – and proof must be examined – Congress must begin impeachment proceedings and Barr must refer, at a minimum, the relevant portions of material discovered by Mueller. This is a potential inflection point.”
Rep. Adam Schiff
Like Holder, Rep. Adam Schiff (the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee) has had an innocent-until-proven-guilty tone when addressing Leopold and Cormier’s report. Nonetheless, the California Democrat has stressed that the allegations in their article are disturbing and must be investigated. On Twitter, Schiff posted, “The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.”
Democratic attorney Neal Katyal, who served as deputy solicitor general under President Obama, has responded to the BuzzFeed report by tweeting that “ordering someone to lie to Congress is a felony.” But Katyal has also emphasized that he is saddened by the allegations and that no one in the U.S. should be happy about them—whatever their feelings about Trump. The attorney tweeted that “if the BuzzFeed article is accurate” it is “the duty of every member of Congress to investigate. But no American should take joy in what is about to happen. It’s just the least worst alternative to not knowing the answers.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro
Although Texas is a red state, its large urban centers lean Democrat — including San Antonio, where Rep. Joaquin Castro was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Castro is an important Texas Democrat, serving on the House Intelligence Committee as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee. And Castro wasted no time responding to Leopold and Cormier’s article. On Twitter, the Texan posted, “If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.”
Sen. Chris Murphy
Mueller has carefully avoided the media spotlight throughout his Russia investigation, and his team has politely used the words “no comment” with countless journalists. But Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, responding to Leopold and Cormier’s article, visited Twitter and asserted that he’s hoping Mueller will soon go public with more of the Trump-related evidence that he has. Murphy tweeted, “Listen, if Mueller does have multiple sources confirming Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, then we need to know this ASAP. Mueller shouldn’t end his inquiry, but it’s about time for him to show Congress his cards before it’s too late for us to act.”
Rep. Ted W. Lieu
Once a red state, California has become a Democratic Party stronghold—especially after the 2018 midterms. And one very busy California Democrat is Rep. Ted W. Lieu, who is now co-chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. On Twitter, Lieu responded to the BuzzFeed allegations by asserting that the House Judiciary Committee needs to conduct a thorough investigation. The congressman tweeted, “Based on the BuzzFeed report and numerous other articles showing @realDonaldTrump committed Obstruction of Justice and other possible felonies, it is time for the House Judiciary Committee to start holding hearings to establish a record of whether @POTUS committed high crimes.”