Trump Jr. also compared Thursday’s discredited BuzzFeed article, which alleged that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, to the media coverage this weekend surrounding a widely documented encounter near the Lincoln Memorial involving several pro-Trump Catholic high school students, black activists shouting homophobic slurs, and a Native American man.
“You had some Catholic schoolboys that were at a right-to-life march, okay? They were wearing a MAGA hat,” Trump Jr. said. “They had to pounce because the media wants that to be true. They want a bunch of nice, Catholic kids — happen to be white — they want them to be the enemy.”
Many liberal and conservative commentators criticized the students — and, in some cases, called for them to be personally harassed and their school closed — based on initial, incomplete videos of the encounter, only to walk back their comments after a fuller video showed that the students themselves had been harassed, and that the students did not appear to approach the Native American man or the activists at any point.
BUZZFEED REPORTER UNABLE TO EXPLAIN KEY DISCREPENCY IN POST-ARTICLE STATEMENTS; CNN ANCHOR RIPS BUZZFEED’S ‘DERELICTION OF DUTY’
And after the BuzzFeed article was published, some commentators and top Democrats said it raised the possibility the president should be impeached if it were accurate.
“They need it to be true, Laura,” Trump Jr. added. “They’ve been pushing this nonsense for two years. They’ve found nothing. … If you’re not sure it’s true, don’t push it for 14 hours straight.”
He continued: “This isn’t the first time that happened. You saw it right after I did my testimony, and they said, ‘Oh, Donald Trump Jr. had the Wikileaks information,’ because presumably, Adam Schiff leaked it right after my testimony to them, and conveniently took out the one before the four, turning the 14th into the 4th, meaning I had it six days before the world saw it, as opposed to four days after the entire world saw it.”
Trump Jr. has previously accused Schiff, D-Calif., of leaking details about his closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In response, a Schiff spokesman asserted that Schiff and his staff “do not leak classified or confidential information. … [But] we do not permit witnesses to represent publicly that they are fully cooperating with our committee and privately refuse to answer questions pertinent to our investigation on the basis of meritless claims of privilege.”
Trump Jr.’s longstanding allegations that the media uses unreliable leaks to treat the White House unfairly were thrust into the spotlight again this week, after BuzzFeed News investigative reporters Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold authored their bombshell, since-discredited report on Thursday. (Schiff, on Sunday, vowed to launch a probe into the substance of the story.)
The article cited two law enforcement officials who said Michael Cohen had acknowledged to Special Counsel Mueller’s office that President Trump told him to lie to Congress about a potential real-estate deal in Moscow, and to claim that the negotiations ended months before they did so as to conceal Trump’s involvement.
“They’ve been pushing this nonsense for two years. They’ve found nothing.”— Donald Trump Jr.
The article claimed that “internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents” confirmed Trump’s instruction to Cohen. But Mueller issued his first public statement in more than a year to repudiate the BuzzFeed report just one day later, asserting in a brief statement that the story’s key elements were “not accurate.”
The Washington Post has since reported that Mueller intended his rare denial to mean that the story was “almost entirely incorrect,” and that the special counsel’s office immediately “reviewed evidence to determine if there were any documents or witness interviews like those described, reaching out to those they thought might have a stake in the case. They found none.”