Mueller’s leak-proof investigation

By | January 19, 2019

On Friday, Peter Carr, spokesman for the Mueller investigation, released a brief statement challenging the accuracy of “specific statements” in BuzzFeed‘s blockbuster 1500-word report on Donald Trump instructing Michael Cohen to lie to Congress:

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.

The Washington Post then reported:

Inside the Justice Department, the statement was viewed as a huge step, and one that would have been taken only if the special counsel’s office viewed the story as almost entirely incorrect. The special counsel’s office seemed to be disputing every aspect of the story that addressed comments or evidence given to its investigators.

To go from “specific statements” “are not accurate,” to “the story as almost entirely incorrect,” is a wild leap.

Earlier, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley repeatedly sidestepped issuing a categorical denial of the central claim made in the BuzzFeed report.

Carr’s statement seems to have had less to do with suggesting the BuzzFeed report was baseless than in underlining that the report’s sources were not members of Mueller’s highly disciplined team that only releases information in the form of court documents.

Marcy Wheeler writes:

I don’t doubt that Mueller hates Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier for the way they got the financial transfer part of this story when no one else did, and more of the Moscow Tower deal story than others (which seems to be forgotten in the squawking about Buzzfeed’s loneliness on this latest story).

But I suspect Carr took this step, even more, as a message to Southern District of New York and any other Agents working tangents of this case. Because of the way Mueller is spinning off parts of this case, he has less control over some aspects of it, like Cohen’s plea. And in this specific case (again, presuming I’m right about the SDNY sourcing), Buzzfeed’s sources just jeopardized Mueller’s hard-earned reputation, built over 20 months, for not leaking. By emphasizing in his statement what happened in “the special counsel’s office,” “testimony obtained by this office,” Carr strongly suggests that the people who served as sources had nothing to do with the office.

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