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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Mueller Spokesman: BuzzFeed's Characterization of Documents and Testimony in Report that Trump Directed Cohen To Lie is "Not Accurate"; BuzzFeed Editor In Chief: We Stand By Our Reporting, We Urge The Special Counsel To Make Clear What He's Disputing. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired January 18, 2019 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We had intended to speak at the top of the program with one of two "BuzzFeed" reporters behind a report that if true meant federal investigators had evidence that the president of the United States committed a serious crime and potentially an impeachable offense. CNN had not independently confirmed the story, nor had any other news organization. In just a few moments ago, we learned that "BuzzFeed" was going to pull the reporter from the program because Robert Mueller's office was about to weigh in.

Well, that office has weighed in and it is something in itself. Before getting into exactly what Mueller's office has now said -- they rarely ever say anything on the record -- here is the essence of what the "BuzzFeed" report was. The headline read, President Trump directed his attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about the Moscow Tower project.

Earlier today, neither the president nor the White House categorically denied the substance of it. By this afternoon, though, that line had changed. Giuliani, the president's TV lawyer, calling the report categorically false.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders echoed that line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Did the president direct Michael Cohen to lie to Congress?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, that's absolutely ridiculous. I think that the president's outside counsel addressed this best and said in a statement earlier today that it's categorically false.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, now in a rare move, the special counsel's office has weighed in.

CNN's Sara Murray joins us with that, and all the other late developments.

So, what did the special counsel's office say? This just happened.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It did just happen, Anderson. As you pointed out, it's remarkable they issued a statement like this. Here is what it says from Peter Carr, the spokesman for the special counsel.

"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.

And remember, Anderson, the story, it is sourced to federal law enforcement officials. But it also said that there were all of these documents, that there were interviews, that there were witnesses.

And that is really what backed up this notion that the president had tried to get Michael Cohen to testify to something that just wasn't true in front of Congress. Now the special counsel is pretty unequivocally saying, we have documents and witness statements but they don't back up what "BuzzFeed" is saying.

COOPER: And there were two reporters on the "BuzzFeed" story. We were supposed to talk to one of them. They said they had two sources on the record, unnamed sources in federal law enforcement who I believe it was they claimed that they had seen these -- some of the documents.

MURRAY: Yes, that's right. They said their sources have reviewed some of these documents. But the "BuzzFeed" reporters had not personally reviewed them.

And, Anderson, this is a story that's kind of stumped a lot of us during the day and into late last night, because no one else has been able to confirm this story. No one else was able to get their hands on any of these documents that apparently backed up this story. I think the same is true of the "BuzzFeed" reporters. They didn't put anything else further out corroborating it in terms of the underlying evidence.

But I think this statement really shows you what a difficult position the special counsel's office was in today. We know the Justice Department, that includes the special counsel's office, does not comment on anything regarding an ongoing investigation. That's what got James Comey into so much trouble when he was leading the FBI.

But in the wake of this "BuzzFeed" story, we saw so many lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers going out there and saying, we need to know if this is true or not. If this is true, we need to see these underlying documents, because if the president is instructing someone to commit -- to lie to Congress, the president obstructing Justice, is grounds for impeachment. I think that this drumbeat from lawmakers is part of what put pressure on the special counsel to do something so extraordinary.

I mean, as you pointed out, they almost never comment. Last year they wouldn't tell "The New York Times" what one of their prosecutors was having for lunch around the Manafort trial. That's how little they want to comment.

COOPER: Yes. Sara Murray, appreciate it.

I want to go next to the White House and Pamela Brown.

Pam, you heard Sarah Sanders categorically denied the report this afternoon, quoting Rudy Giuliani. Has there been any reaction since the special counsel's office weighed in?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not publicly. But I think it is safe to say that the president will likely tweet about this very soon, Anderson, because this is vindication from what officials have been saying since this morning that they have been saying throughout the day, since early this morning, that they have been saying that this is false. Initially, you heard some of the White House officials come out and attack the credibility of "BuzzFeed", attack the idea of leaking from law enforcement officials.

Then as the day went on, Sarah Sanders, the press secretary then came out and said, it's categorically false. Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney, said the same thing. She was echoing the sentiment from what we heard from Giuliani.

And so, now, in an extraordinary move, Anderson, the special counsel spokesman Peter Carr is coming out and essentially saying that there is nothing to back up this "BuzzFeed" report that the president directed Michael Cohen, his former attorney, to lie to Congress and that there are Trump Organization documents to back it up.

[20:05:14] Again, as Sarah pointed out, that is extremely rare for the special counsel to do. But also, this story from "BuzzFeed" certainly caught a lot of attention because of the implications for possible impeachment, as Sara pointed out, suborning perjury, that's what this raised. You heard lawmakers from Capitol Hill talking about this, saying they want to get to the bottom of this, they want to investigate.

During all of this, there was a strong pushback from here at the White House from officials saying that it's not true. And now, you have the special counsel statement. I'm sure this is -- even though right to you no one is speaking out publicly here at the White House in response to the special counsel's statement.

I think, again, it will be safe to say that the president will be talking about this. His son Don Jr. just tweeted about it basically mocking the "BuzzFeed" story saying, I told you so. There's probably more to come in terms of reaction, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Pamela Brown, appreciate your reporting.

"BuzzFeed", by the way, just responded. I'm quoting from them.

We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report, they say. Joining us now, "New York Times" White House correspondent and CNN

political analyst Maggie Haberman, also CNN legal analyst Preet Bharara, and Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey is a former federal prosecutor. Preet is a former U.S. story for the Southern District of New York. We should mention that President Trump fired him, making his loss our gain.

Maggie, just -- what do you make of this?

HABERMAN: A lot of different things. It's still hard to figure it out. One thing that Pam Brown said that I don't think is true is the statement didn't say there is nothing to this.

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: The statement said it's inaccurate. We don't know what they are saying is inaccurate. That said --

COOPER: They are being specific, "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 testimony are not accurate.

HABERMAN: Right. This story, if true, would have directionally changed what is happening in terms of the White House. You saw the pressure come from lawmakers who were deeply concerned about it, not just Democrats but also Republicans. You saw that pressure applied and grow on the special counsel throughout the day.

It's very rare that they issue any statement at all, let alone something of this nature. It probably would have been more helpful had they done it earlier today. I don't think they felt they could.

COOPER: It is also interesting that president Trump, who obviously tweets quite a bit and attacks things had said nothing about this all day. He wasn't saying this is not true.

HABERMAN: So, it's interesting. There was silence from the White House or we're not going to get into it. As you saw Hogan Gidley do. I think Sarah Sanders did the same thing earlier on today.

COOPER: Kellyanne Conway was on --

HABERMAN: Right. And there were officials not talking. We're not going to get into this.

You know, the reality is that the president is not known for making truthful statements to his own folks. So, I think nobody necessarily wanted to go out on a limb. And what was striking about this was Rudy Giuliani did then issue the president's personal lawyer a categorical denial. And Sarah Sanders went with that later.

And so, I think that's when you did start to see something change here. Look, the president is very likely to point to this and say, this is a witch-hunt. No collusion. This is an example of what they do. The interesting thing about the Mueller report is that depending on

whether it's ever made public, there's going to be an answer to this, right? We're going to know at some point whether it's in the full report or a summary not exactly -- but what was found. This was a knowable thing.

The two reporters involved in this have broken consistently very good stories about this issue, about the Trump Tower Project in Moscow, for instance. So, I think that lent a lot of credibility to this. I'm curious to see what else evolves. I do think you can expect the president is going to point to this as an example of a voracious media.

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: And I think it is understandable that he would do that.

COOPER: Right.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: If I could add one point to what Maggie said, we may know February 7th what substance there is to this story. Michael Cohen is going to be testifying in public on February 7th. He will undoubtedly be asked about this.

HABERMAN: They have suggested there are restrictions on what he can say on February 7th.

TOOBIN: That's right. But it's not clear what those restrictions are. It's not clear if this is covered. For example --

COOPER: If he decides -- whoever decides that he can't speak about anything relating to Mueller or the Southern District of New York, that would seem to eliminate this.

TOOBIN: The restriction that I understand that Cohen is going to be under is that he can't talk about the Russia part of the story. This is sort of a weird hybrid, this story of obstruction of justice and Russia. It's also possible if the whole thing is false, he will take the opportunity to say that. I don't see how that compromises --

COOPER: Which, by the way, we also should point out, he did not comment on the story today, nor did people around him publicly make any comments about it.

[20:10:07] HABERMAN: Although Lanny Davis did not -- who has been acting as a spokesman for Michael Cohen did not knock it down. He did it out of respect for the special counsel's office, we just can't talk about this.

COOPER: I should point out you were very -- I don't know if circumspect is the right word but very cautious when this story broke, tweeting out, if this is true, it's very damming, but let's reserve judgment.

PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, look, I think this is an object lesson for people covering the story and responding to the story, whether you are in the press or in politics or you are a citizen in the country. Sometimes you need to pause and decide whether there are enough facts to support your jubilation, because you don't like the president, or your disappointment, because you support the president.

I feel like sometimes we should take a step back and realize, there are lots of people who have a political view and they don't like the president. And before that, some people didn't like Hillary Clinton. They so badly want something to be true that's negative about the president that they sometimes don't take the necessary time to analyze, take a deep breath, see if it is been corroborated by other notable news sources as well and they don't parse things out.

So, there are two categories of people you can take fault with. I don't know how much in the "BuzzFeed" story is false. I definitely credit anything that the special counsel's office says. If they say the characterization is not completely correct, I believe that.

So, the press needs to take responsibility, in this case in the form of "BuzzFeed News".

But then there were tens of thousands of other people, most notably politicians, who decided to spring on top of this I think prematurely and excessively, in a way that they didn't have to do. None of this is going away. The special counsel will have a report coming out in due time as Jeff pointed out. There's going to be a hearing that will include Michael Cohen.

You know, people can get a night's sleep before they start pounding on this, in the way that they have. I think that's just a good lesson for all of us to think about going forward.

COOPER: The -- a couple things. From a reporting standpoint, Maggie, maybe just explain for people out there, usually when a story is broken by whether it's "The New York Times" or somebody else, gradually other news organizations try to figure out -- you know, go to their own sources, talk to people, and usually can start to verify either the full story that somebody else has broken or aspects of it.

It was telling that today, as soon as this story broke, obviously you have thousands of reporters all over the world trying to find out if this is true. That throughout the day, no one was able to come up with similar sources saying this, was a red flag.

HABERMAN: There have been stories previously that haven't been confirmed.

COOPER: For a while.

HABERMAN: Right, and in some cases they then get confirmed well down the road. The Trump Tower Moscow stuff that "BuzzFeed" broke would be one aspect of that. And then there are stories that some people break that never got confirmed. Those continue to be questions, like the one about Michael Cohen being in Prague, which has continued to be disputed by Michael Cohen. In this case, again, the reporters who broke this are very good

reporters. And they have broken a lot of really solid news. We had tried ourselves -- I can only speak for my news organization. We tried throughout the day to corroborate key aspects of it. We had been unable to.

And then you saw the special counsel's statement. I mean, just going to what Preet said, I think there's -- I think a lot of the partisan excitement has gotten ahead -- not only partisan, but a lot of the people's emotions around the president have in this example today gotten ahead of where the established facts were.

And I don't know what that means for whatever process follows. I don't know what that means in terms of how people react when the ultimate report comes out. I don't know how it hardens resolve for supporters of the president.

Remember, an impeachment battle, if that is what happens, which there's every to reason it will likely be something, a lot of it is public opinion. And a lot is shaped around public opinion. That's how members of Congress vote. And people's emotions running hot and away from the facts doesn't necessarily help that.

COOPER: Jeff, the fact that the special counsel's office issued a statement -- I mean, no disrespect to the spokesman at the special counsel's office, but it's not a -- he is not issuing a lot of statements.

TOOBIN: Peter Carr, there's a name that a lot of people don't know because Peter Carr doesn't say much.

COOPER: I'm sure he does other stuff.

BHARARA: He is the spokesman.

TOOBIN: How many stories have you read which has a line, the special counsel's office declined to comment?

COOPER: I want to read what he said. It's rare to hear from the spokesperson.

"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.

[20:15:08] TOOBIN: Now, that statement was obviously very carefully written. I think we should read it very carefully as well, which leads to a certain amount of puzzlement on my part, because that is -- it's not a repudiation of every word in the "BuzzFeed" story. It is a repudiation of some part of it. Now, it may be a repudiation of the part we're focusing on, that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress. But it might not be.

That's what leaves me puzzled. I think brother Preet is certainly the right attitude here, which is, slow down. I mean, we don't have to know this today.

COOPER: Everyone doesn't have to weigh in right now.

TOOBIN: Twitter is a maligned force in many ways. One of the things is it forces us all -- it doesn't force us, it allows us all to talk before we think.

COOPER: It also makes people feel like they have to join the stream of conversation as somebody who is stepped back from Twitter, it's much better this way. Life is better.

BHARARA: We miss you, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes.

BHARARA: But part of the reason there was skepticism or I was skeptical was because there was a notable difference between the characterization of Michael Cohen's conduct, with respect to the Southern District of New York case, relating to the hush money payment, versus the lying to Congress. Those two briefs came in from my old Southern District office which I used to lead, and the special counsel's office on the same day. With respect to the Southern District case, the prosecutors took the position in their own document that the payoff was done in coordination with and at the direction of Individual One the president.

At the same time, you had special counsel Mueller's document that came in with respect to Michael Cohen's guilt plea in which they said they made it clear the deal in Moscow concluded before the Iowa caucuses for the benefit of the president. But they did not take the step of saying what the Southern District prosecutor said, which was he did at that time the direction of the president, which is why then months later, you see the "BuzzFeed" article say something that clearly sounds like the Mueller team should have known, it was under the direction of the president. They didn't bother to say it, when their sister office in the Southern District did say it. So, when you see that discrepancy, that's the thing that causes you to have pause.

TOOBIN: I didn't notice that. You really know how to read a legal document. That's very good.

But that's a big deal. That, you know, the Southern District said it was at the direction of the president. The special counsel didn't. This "BuzzFeed" story sort of changes that and maybe we should --

COOPER: So, why would there be that discrepancy? If they both have access to Michael Cohen.

BHARARA: It sounds like in one case they had clear proof it was at the direction of and they credited it. In the other case, they didn't, which is maybe why we have this clarification, because -- I'm prepared to believe -- I'm not saying this is true. I'm prepared to believe the president of the United States did some things, said things or people at his behest suggested to Michael Cohen, your testimony better be good and it should not cause problems for the president. That's very different from having smoking gun proof that it was

directed. Part of the problem with -- I don't know if you agree with this, Maggie -- with the beginning of the "BuzzFeed" article is that they flatly say he was directed by the president to lie to Congress.

COOPER: And that there were documents -- we don't know in what form, Trump Organization documents that backed up that notion.

HABERMAN: So, just one -- from a reporting perspective, I have not been able to substantiate that anyone from the Trump Organization went to speak with Mueller's people. We know that members of the Trump Organization have spoken with Congress and not that many of them, but some have. The president's son would be one of them.

I believe that Mueller has -- you might know this better than I do. I believe that Mueller has access to those transcripts. We know that Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Organization has been interviewed by the Southern District. That's the only person I'm aware of who has been interviewed by the Southern District.

Michael Cohen, by the time he was talking to all of these folks was not a Trump Organization official anymore. That was a little puzzling to me as I was reading the story.

The story also suggested that they had this picture from documents and from texts and e-mails and Michael Cohen kind of filled in the back end of it with whatever he said to the special counsel. That doesn't seem substantiated by this statement.

COOPER: When you say they, you don't mean "BuzzFeed". You mean the prosecutor.

HABERMAN: I mean, "BuzzFeed" suggested that's how it went for prosecutors.

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: That was a very, very clear and drawn out and detailed explanation of how things had gone inside the room in a way we rarely have had.

[20:20:09] It may still turn out that there are elements of that that are demonstrably true. We will at some point know. Right now, it's hard to discern based on the statement.

COOPER: I want to put -- do we have the "BuzzFeed" statement that they have now put out? Let's put that up on the screen. For people who are just joining, this is a statement now that "BuzzFeed" said in the wake of the statement from Mueller's office. "BuzzFeed" says, we are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.

BHARARA: This is a problem. This is a big deal and a problem for "BuzzFeed".

When I was a United States attorney, we used to debate this issue not commonly but not infrequently. And that is when a report comes out in some newspaper or in some media outlet that has a lot of things correct but it has a few things incorrect, like who is the object of scrutiny or what documents we have or mischaracterizes things in a certain way, usually our plan was to keep our mouths shut. You can do more harm by talking than not talking.

Sometimes it was egregious enough, you felt like you had to make some statement. Kind of like what Peter Carr did here. The problem then is, you don't want to edit their piece and say, among these 15 facts -- you become their editor. And you become sort of a party to letting them know secret confidential information.

So, I think it is fine and proper what the special counsel's office did. They had to do it. It must have been extraordinarily difficult to decide to do it. As we said, it took them 24 hours -- or 20 hours do it.

But they're not going to get answers -- "BuzzFeed" is not going to get answers from them telling them what little things got wrong and what you didn't get wrong, which leaves "BuzzFeed" in a very bad situation. And press outlets sometimes face that if they don't get everything right and the prosecutor speaks in this way and retreats back.

COOPER: Maggie, just from a reporting standpoint, explain for people out there what happens now to -- for those "BuzzFeed" reporters, for "BuzzFeed". Are they -- they go back to the people they talked to, they try to pan out --

HABERMAN: Speaking for reporting generally, people will go back to their sources and try to re-establish trails and look at what they have and what they don't have.

Ben smith, the editor in chief of "BuzzFeed", is a very smart and aggressive reporter. I'm sure he has his reporters doing that.

One thing I think is really important that I didn't mention before, in the course of the reporting of this, the challenge that everyone has had in terms of reporting this story, Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying before Congress.

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: And this is something that you have the resident Trump team say all the time, Michael Cohen is a liar, Michael Cohen is a liar. They use it to destroy his credibility.

COOPER: They are not wrong. Michael Cohen has lied.

HABERMAN: He has acknowledged that. The White House has a massive credibility problem. This is why when you have -- it's very rare --

COOPER: The White House, as far as I know, have not acknowledged that they have lied about anything.

HABERMAN: Correct. I think that's -- they have acknowledged sometimes errors, very infrequently. So, this is why when I had a lot of people around the White House and around the president saying to me today, why is everyone not just -- why do they have -- why does the Trump team have to give a response?

Because people are not going to just assume that because the president's folks say we're not going to dignify this, that that suggests that there is something wrong with the "BuzzFeed" reporting. There is a cost to constantly saying things that aren't true. And this is it.

COOPER: I want to bring in Brian Stelter, chief media correspondent.

Brian, what are you hearing? What do you make of it?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Just two more words from "BuzzFeed". They updated their statement slightly, Anderson. Two more words. The two words are, stay tuned. They are trying to signal, as Maggie was saying, the reporters are going to re-report this story, try to understand this dispute in more detail. Stay tuned is the message.

COOPER: So, they literally have updated their --

STELTER: They have. Stay tuned.

Literally, the new statements, stay tuned. I think the view --

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Right, exactly. I think the view inside "BuzzFeed" is the statement is worded lawyerly. This was a carefully worded statement, as you were saying, Toobin, very carefully worded statement. It's also an incredibly rare statement.

That's why they pulled out from your show knowing the statement was about to come out in the 7:00 p.m. hour. I do think we should acknowledge and be transparent about the background of one of the reporters here.

Jason Leopold has been an amazing reporter at "BuzzFeed". He is known as a FOIA guy. He FOIAs documents. He digs through documents.

Yes, he is able to get incredible information. In the past, he has acknowledged he had a checkered past. He has acknowledged instances of plagiarism. People accused him of making up stories.

This was 15 years ago. This was a long time ago. But those details did come up today.

Republican National Committee tried to use that against Jason Leopold today. "BuzzFeed" was clear.

They said, they said in the afternoon. We stand by our story. We stand by our journalists. We have absolute confidence in our journalists.

At the moment, that statement still stands. COOPER: Although they're not saying in their statement --

TOOBIN: That was that.

STELTER: That was that.

COOPER: They are not saying we have confidence in this story. They are essentially saying that --

STELTER: They're going to re-report the story. I stand by it.

COOPER: Let's put their statement again because I don't want to paraphrase it, because obviously these things matter.

We are continuing to report and determine what the special counsel is disputing. We remain confident in the accuracy of our report.

And you say they have added "stay tuned".

STELTER: Look, it's incredibly unusual for a big news outlet to be in this situation. To be out there on a limb with a story that nobody else could match for almost 24 hours. And now, to have that story knocked down not by a Trump White House spokesperson who has reputation --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I don't know in knocked down is the right --

BHARARA: This is an incredibly important point. In the same way I and others have said, when the report came out, you don't immediately absorb and agree with everything in that article. You have to maintain some skepticism.

The same is true now. Just because the special counsel has issued this clearly drafted and wordsmithed document, taking some issue with the characterizations, doesn't then mean you immediately you throw out everything the "BuzzFeed" article said. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

And so, you can't have this pendulum swing from one extreme to the other about what the truth is.

STELTER: And Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier have had some excellent work on Trump Tower Moscow. They have led the way on stories about this deal involving Trump Tower Moscow. And their proud reporting has been backed --

COOPER: Right, some of the stories were not able to be confirmed for a very long time. And then --

HABERMAN: But then were.

STELTER: Eventually were.

COOPER: Right. STELTER: I think for the audience at home, this is even more

frustrating than it was last night. This is more frustrating than this morning. There are people inside the government that know the truth. And the American public is not being told the truth.

They can say -- you are going to say all day, we have to get to the bottom of it and finish the investigation. I think there are a lot of Americans -- maybe most Americans who say, you have had enough time. Tell us what you know. Isn't that a legitimate argument?

TOOBIN: I'm not sure that's the reaction to this story. I think -- in general, they may think Mueller should tell what he knows. What the reaction here may be, the press screwed up. They should apologize.

And that, you know, the media isn't as great as it thinks it is. I mean, this is a bad day for the news media. I mean, let's not kid ourselves.

That statement is at least a partial repudiation of an enormously important story.

COOPER: Also, it's a very bad day for "BuzzFeed" regardless of where this story goes. To the credit of other news organizations, everybody didn't jump on the bandwagon saying this is true.

HABERMAN: No, but we all ran with it saying if true. That was not that huge an asterisk, frankly.

COOPER: True.

TOOBIN: And just, you know, I think Brian, I would love to think that the press -- the public trusts us all the time. But I think the opposite is true.

COOPER: This hurt -- this hurts everybody.

TOOBIN: Of course.

BHARARA: It also is a moment where -- this is maybe a footnote. It shows generally speaking how much credibility the special counsel's team has.

STELTER: Yes.

BHARARA: They never speak.

HABERMAN: That is true.

BHARARA: When you never speak and you speak sometimes, it carries a lot of weight.

And the president's team that constantly says it's a hoax and the 12 angry Democrats, they're going to wave this around and credit the Mueller team with getting something correct that's to the benefit of the president of the United States who constantly attacks them, even though they are public servants. And they will be proving by waving this around that they actually credit the kinds of things that the Mueller team says on occasion.

HABERMAN: In fact, the Mueller team has charged a number of people with lying to investigators. What you will hear very often from the Trump folks -- Jeffrey and I talked about this before, it's a process crime. It's still a crime.

It's the reason why you have seen it, particularly in the Flynn documents, where you had the special counsel say government officials need to be held to a higher standard. They placed a premium on showing a law as minor as you might feel it is does not make that a minor thing to break. And there is a reason why Mueller has seemed like the arbiter of truth in a lot of these situations, because he has named who has been lying to investigators.

I think that Preet is right, when you have the president point to this as evidence of -- this is going to help him, the fact that Mueller --

STELTER: He is on a retweet spree celebrating this and attacking the media.

TOOBIN: Is the president tweeting now?

STELTER: He is of course -- mostly retweeting people mocking "BuzzFeed" for this.

The editor in chief of "BuzzFeed", Ben Smith, who, of course, led the team doing this reporting, came out just now with a tweet that a slightly different statement. He is saying, we urge the special counsel to make clear what he is disputing.

I know the odds of that seem small. "BuzzFeed" challenging the special counsel saying, tell us what --

BHARARA: They're not going to do that.

STELTER: They are not going to do that.

BHARARA: We said multiple times how extraordinary this is. It's extraordinary the statement by the special counsel's office is extraordinary for a number of reasons. One is to vary what I said a second ago.

You have the special counsel Bob Mueller who is attacked every day by the president of the United States and by his allies, including Giuliani, who saw a bad story that's not their responsibility to fix in any way, right? They're not part of the press. They are doing their thing. They keep their head down. They had their secret proceedings and the grand jury also done in secret.

[20:30:03]

And they saw a story in part that was bad for the sitting President of the United States, that raised an expectation that further bad things were going to happen to the President of the United states where you have members of Congress and you have chairman of committees who are basically committing to doing certain kinds of actions and talking about impeachment.

And they said, even though they get maligned every day as people were trying to take the President down, they said, "You know what, we have to speak and tamp this down in part, I believe, because it is unduly hurting the President." And that's what they did, because I think they're committed to doing the right thing.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's hurting the presidency and hurting the institution.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: But I think there may be another reason why Mueller spoke out on this unusual occasion is that, to me, the most interesting part of the BuzzFeed story was the citation to two federal law enforcement officials.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That was sort of the sources.

TOOBIN: As the sources. That is something that you almost -- I mean, you do not see federal law enforcement officials in the Mueller investigation talking and that had to appall Mueller because that is something he has just not done. I mean, they heard that (ph). And I think it's as much the sourcing as the substance --

BHARARA: I agree with that.

TOOBIN: -- that he is responding too here. He doesn't want anyone to think that he authorized, supported, believed federal law enforcement talking to reporters about this.

BHARARA: Yes.

COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. I think it's our first break, so we're going to continue the conversation in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:42] COOPER: Quite a night after (INAUDIBLE) remarkable developments. BuzzFeed publishes a story with serious allegations against the President, reporting that he directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. The White House, after first holding back, finally begins pushing back. Then in a very rare move, the Special Counsel's office takes issue with it, BuzzFeed responds.

Now, BuzzFeed's editor in chief, Ben Smith, is tweeting, "In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel's spokesman, we stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing.

The President is also tweeting. I want to go back to Pamela Brown at the White House for that. Pam, what is the President saying?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. As expected, Anderson, the President is responding to the statement from the Special Counsel disputing the BuzzFeed report by tweeting. But interestingly, he is just retweeting at this point. So far, there have been a few retweets.

He retweeted from a radio talk show host, Dan Bongino, who had tweeted, "We called it. Fake news. More BuzzFeed B.S." He retweeted another tweet from a reporter for Newsmax who had said, "I told you all that the BuzzFeed story was nonsense."

And he also tweeted this -- retweeted his son, Don Jr., which showed a video of Donald Trump speaking to Oprah in 1988. And he retweeted that basically saying, "Just a son who loves his dad. Nice."

So, unclear what prompted that tweet but certainly the White House has stayed mum. They are letting the President tweet, speak about this and just letting this play out. I think there is certainly an attitude here, Anderson, of vindication, an attitude of I told you so.

White House officials throughout the day have been knocking this down or attempting to knock down the BuzzFeed report, which was unusual for the White House to do. Normally, on Russia-related stories, the White House would tell reporters to go to outside counsel, such as Rudy Giuliani.

But in addition to that, they also came out and said that simply it wasn't true. Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, said it was categorically false. Hogan Gidley, a press spokesperson here at the White House said that essentially it wasn't true. And other aides here at the White House came out and said, we're bringing up the credibility of BuzzFeed , talking about Michael Cohen saying he's a proven liar, saying this is another egregious example of leakers. And so certainly that is the attitude here at the White House.

Now, we should note, Anderson, and you did point out in the lead to me that BuzzFeed has come out basically asking the Special Counsel to identify what exactly it's disputing. Ben Smith, he was the editor in chief said in response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel's spokesman, he is saying, "We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he is disputing."

But make no mistake here, Anderson, it's extraordinarily rare for the Special Counsel to release a statement like this and they probably wouldn't do such a thing unless they were knocking down the central premise of the story, which is that the President -- that there was evidence corroborating that the President directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow. Anderson?

COOPER: Pam Brown, appreciate it, from the White House tonight.

Back to Maggie Haberman, Preet Bharara, Jeff Toobin, and Brian Stelter. We should point out that just in terms of the kind of the timeline from the White House response in the morning, I think it was Kellyanne Conway, Hogan Gidley, who were on attacking that, you know, Michael Cohen is a liar, obviously, you know, raising questions about the reporting, but not categorically denying it. And it wasn't until the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, later in the day said that it was categorically untrue. Then Sarah Sanders echoed that and citing Rudy Giuliani. HABERMAN: That was significant from Rudy Giuliani, right? I mean, in the same way -- it's not in the same way, but we rarely have statements from the Special Counsel's office. We certainly very rarely have these categorical denials from Rudy Giuliani at this stage of this investigation and I did find that to be telling.

I was not frankly surprised by the sort of, we're not going to dignify this with a response approach that the White House took earlier in the day. Going back to something I said earlier in the show, this is a President who has a history of not telling the truth. And I don't think that anybody necessarily wanted to put themselves out on a limb the way that they have it other times --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: In fact, Sarah Sanders said things they were not true, then it turn out the President have -- maybe not told her it occurred.

HABERMAN: During the experience of covering, one of the many scandals involving New York politicians that Preet happened to be in the Southern District for over the years, there was a moment where the denials from a spokesman, from one of these politicians went from this is not true to the elected official says it's not true.

[20:40:12] And that was very notable because that was when the person starts to question whether they are being told the truth. And I think you have a more exacerbated version of that with the White House, where there's a president who frequently says things that are false, and people don't want to be on a limb.

So, I did find what Rudy Giuliani said to be striking and I think not unimportant. Again, we don't know -- I think that Jeffrey made an important point that the concern was the fact that it referred to law enforcement officials in that BuzzFeed story. You are now seeing this on what Pam Brown was saying the President referring to that, others on Twitter referring to leakers.

This is often a point that the President and his supporters make if there's leaking against him. People are out to get him. Anything that could delegitimize the Special Counsel's investigation I think is of concern to the Special Counsel and that's why they went forward. I don't know what this means for the story going forward.

COOPER: Joining us right now is the BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith. Ben, good to have you on. Can you explain, first of all, your response right now to what Special Counsel Mueller's office has released?

BEN SMITH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BUZZFEED (via-phone): Yes. Thank you for having me on. We, you know, obviously, we stand by the reporting in the story. We spoke to, as we described, to federal law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. We're not planning against with that characterization who told us that the President directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

COOPER: Do you know who those two sources are? Because I know -- yes, this was two reporter.

SMITH: Do I know?

COOPER: Yes.

SMITH: Of course, I know.

COOPER: OK.

SMITH: Yes. And, you know, and we've been reporting on the Trump Tower Moscow, which is at the heart of the Russia investigation for months. We broke, you know, we broke stories about it before it was at the center of the Cohen indictment. That was Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier.

We hope that with the Special Counsel release this honestly, this vague statement disputing the piece, and we really urge the Special Counsel to make it clear what he is disputing.

COOPER: When you say it's a vague statement, I just want to read for our viewers what the Special Counsel said. They said, "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."

We were pointing out earlier in the program, it's wrong to characterize this as knocking down the story entirely. But there are certainly -- I mean, it's a very specifically worded statement from them.

SMITH: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, they are obviously some of the best lawyers in America and they are clearly referring to something. And we hope that they will tell us what they are referring to. I mean, I think at this point it's very -- that we would hope that they would clarify that.

COOPER: But you know it is highly unlikely that they would clarify a statement that -- I mean, took them, you know, some 20 or so hours to come out with. Are you actually expecting them to make another statement to clarify? Because, you know, Preet Bharara earlier were saying, that's highly unlikely.

SMITH: I mean, I think that would be the responsible thing for them to do. Yes.

COOPER: Do you have any belief that --

SMITH: But, you know, but that's what we and everybody else are continuing to report on this. And so I'm hopeful that, you know, more of the facts will come out regardless. But, yes, we think to -- but yes, they have issued the statement that makes clear that they are disputing something in the story and does not say what.

COOPER: Do you have any doubts at this point about the story, about what you have reported? I know you're saying you stand by it. Are there specific areas you have doubts about or any doubts?

SMITH: We're really confident in these specific sources and in the story the reporters told.

COOPER: Ben, I think Brian Stelter has a question for you.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Ben, earlier today the Republican National Committee challenged one of the two reporters, Jason Leopold, said he has a history of false reporting. I know he's had a great track record for you, working for you. But are you concerned at all about the histories of your reporters being questioned and their work being questioned?

SMITH: Thanks for the question, Brian. And, I mean, I think that, you know, when we saw the Republican National Committee launching ad hominem attacks on the reporters in the story, that struck us as a -- you know, that's something you typically do when you don't have a better response. And, you know, and we did not see the kind of strong and detailed denial or anything like them that you might have expected.

Instead, we saw ad hominem attacks on Jason, you know, who was a Pulitzer finalist two years ago for reporting on a series of assassinations in Russia who is one of, you know, the leading practitioner of FOIA in the United States and his work included revealing Hillary Clinton's e-mails.

And so I think it's ludicrous to go back and, you know, dredge around stuff, you know, stories from 15 years ago that are absolutely, you know, real that he wrote about back then.

STELTER: Right. But people wonder sometimes if there -- in this partisan-polarized age of anti-Trump bias, reporters' own opinions creep into the coverage in something like this.

[20:45:05] You might hear something from a source and you want it to be true, did that happen do you think in this case?

SMITH: No, absolutely not. And the last time Jason was being accused of things like this, it was when his reporting revealed Hillary Clinton's e-mails and it was come from the other side.

TOOBIN: Ben, Jeff Toobin here. Is it unnerving to you that so many other reporters are chasing this story and no one has come up with anything like what you have come up with?

SMITH: You know, I don't -- I think I don't -- I'm not sure I know that to be true. But certainly everybody is chasing this. Everybody is chasing it carefully and trying to confirm it. We'll, I assume, see over the next couple of days where our reporting and where everybody else's reporting advances it.

TOOBIN: I mean, we all love to have scoops, but isn't it nervous making that you are out there by yourself on a story that lots and lots of very good reporters are covering? SMITH: You know, the specifics of this story grew out of a story that we've been out way out in front exclusively on, which is that the Moscow project, which is a somewhat different line of inquiry. And Jason and Anthony have been through this whole process at times pretty far out on somewhat separate lines of inquiries and everybody else.

You know, but obviously, these stacks are true or either false and we will all get to the bottom of this. I think the Special Counsel could immediately make clear what in the story he's disputing that would make it easier for everybody to stand it up. But I think we are very confident in the reporting.

BHARARA: Hi, Ben, it's Preet Bharara taking my shot at a question too. Do you have a complaint with respect to the Special Counsel in the following respect? And if you can say, maybe you can't say, but usually and often at least with respect to these kinds of articles, you would have said to the Special Counsel's office, in advance of the publication of the article, we plan to report the following, that the President of the United States directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, what do you think about that?

And some offices will waive you off if they think it's outrageous and mischaracterizes the facts beforehand or you work it out in a way that's appropriate for both the media institution and also the Special Counsel's office. Or maybe that the type that never response to any kind of inquiry ever and in 20 hours after you issued the story, they put out this statement. Do you have any complaint with respect to how this came out in that respect?

SMITH: You know, I think it probably wouldn't be appropriate for me to say whether one office or the other has a habit of waiving people off and waiving people on. I do think what they did here is just extremely confusing.

COOPER: Confusing in what way?

SMITH: To all of us. I mean, confusing and that it's not -- that, you know, a day after a story is published they come out with this very -- both a very detailed and very opaque statement disputing it.

TOOBIN: Are you concern -- frankly, I'm concerned that when you -- over the next few months, whenever there's a hot story, a big scoop that comes out, you're going to hear from the President and his supporters, "Oh, it's another BuzzFeed story. It's another story like BuzzFeed where, you know, even Robert Mueller said it was false." Do you worry that that's going to damage all of us?

SMITH: I mean, you know, we are like I think most of our colleagues, very focus on doing the reporting and getting it right and that's pretty much all we can do.

COOPER: So now, right now, you have reporters out there trying to, what, go back to sources, follow up on this? I assume you have everybody trying to follow up on this.

SMITH: Yes, absolutely. COOPER: Ben Smith, I appreciate you -- talking to you. Thank you very much.

SMITH: Thank you. Yes.

COOPER: Rudy Giuliani has just tweeted, "I commend Bob Mueller's office for correcting the BuzzFeed false story that President Trump encouraged Cohen to lie. I ask the press to take heed that their hysterical desire to destroy this President has gone too far. They pursued this without critical analysis all day."

HABERMAN: That's helpful. I mean I think that -- sorry for the sarcasm. I mean, I think that that's -- I think it is -- that the former mayor of New York is increasingly acting as an extension of the President and I think that that is as opposed to just sort of presenting legal defense and I think that was what you saw with that statement. And I think that it just adds fuel to the fire, frankly, because there's going to be a lot of criticism from the President and it's understandable.

I mean, given the Special Counsel's statement and given the fact that none of us have, as of yet, corroborated the BuzzFeed story, it's not surprising. The President's team would do this. I think --

COOPER: Do you read into the fact that President -- as far as the last tweets we saw or I saw is not actually tweeting himself, that he is just kind of retweeting things? That he's not going on the record?

HABERMAN: Oh, I'm sure he will tomorrow. I think what he's just trying to do is show that other people are criticizing and it's not just him. And then, what we have seen increasingly seen from this President is that he is serving as, and we often say this, that he is serving as his own Chief of Staff, he's on this, he's on that. I mean, that he really is driving his own message and I think that you're seeing that very much today.

[20:50:05] You're looking at a White House that is dealing with the longest government shutdown in history. And this gives them something to point to that it's not about that. So I would very much expect them to be talking about it.

But, look, it is also -- it is generally speaking in the course of the Mueller story, the opposite has been true. Something has been reported. You have had the White House deny it and then it has proven to be true. This is an unusual case. And to be clear, Mueller's team, as we said before, did not say the story is false.

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: They said it's inaccurate as that is described and we don't know specifically what they were referring to, but this is the rare instance where that has happened and I'm not surprised with their pointing to it this way.

COOPER: Right. Yes, I mean, again, you know, I saw on another network I have a banner that said, you know, Mueller's team, you know, just knocks down blockbuster story or something like that. That is not what has happened. They have a very specific statement and, again, I'm just going to read it. "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to Special Counsel's office, and characterization documents and testimony obtained by this office regarding my Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate."

HABERMAN: What they knocked down was a tremendous zeal that was going forward in Congress be-- and, you know, concern based on the reporting. This reporting, if true, as I said earlier, would change the direction of the story massively.

It wouldn't just be here is another evidence of something that happened in terms of an interaction between someone who is from Russia or connected to Russia and the Trump campaign. This would be the President's suborning perjury. It's very, very different. And you had a lot of Congressional weigh in on, you know, we need to know what this means.

And so I think that is what you are seeing Mueller reacting to. I think that if the lesson is to slow down all around, I think it is worth slowing down in terms of what this means.

BHARARA: But the big picture here is, and I appreciate as I think about it, that we've been parsing out and questioning as the prior guest suggested then what it is they agree with, what it is they don't agree with.

But as I sit here and think about it, particularly given my past experience, what I think may be very clear is that the Special Counsel is not on the precipice of being able to put forward and the report or otherwise an allegation that the President of the United States directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

Because I think if they were, they were on the precipice of that and they felt they had the goods and the reporter in their charge they wouldn't have issued this extraordinary statement, because the basic sentiment is true.

And so whether or not there are particular characterizations, Special Counsel doesn't like with the fact that they have law enforcement officials who are giving out information, this will be disappointing to many and uplifting to others. But I think the idea that they must have struggled to tamp down is that they're about to be in a position to indict the President and they're not.

COOPER: Because this article certainly did imply that not only does -- is Michael Cohen saying this, but also that there are documents and there are texts or whatever proof that they have that shows that the President ask him to lie.

TOOBIN: Boy, I have a different view of the implications of all of this. My view is this is the -- that the larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the President and they're willing to lie to do it.

HABERMAN: Well that --

TOOBIN: And I don't think that's true but --

COOPER: But is that different -- I mean, that's not --

TOOBIN: Well, I mean --

HABERMAN: That's two things --

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: -- I'm focused on the media side. Preet is talking about the law enforcement side, that means they're not contradictory. But I just think this is a bad day for us. And, you know, there's no -- I mean, I don't know, Brian seems to disagree a little bit. But I just think, you know, it reinforces every bad stereotype about the news media.

STELTER: It does reinforce bad stereotype about the news media, I agree with you. I am desperate as a media reporter to always say to the audience, "Judge folks individually and judge brands individually. Don't fall for what these politicians out there want you to do. They want you to think we're all crooked. We're not." But BuzzFeed now --

TOOBIN: And neither does BuzzFeed. I mean --

STELTER: But now BuzzFeed -- now the audience is on BuzzFeed, right?

TOOBIN: Yes.

STELTER: Now, the audience is on BuzzFeed.

TOOBIN: Yes, bad day for BuzzFeed.

STELTER: Ben Smith says he knows the identity of the two sources. Obviously the reporters know the identity of the two sources. They're going to be going back to those two sources and hopefully to other sources to try to get to the bottom of this. Now, it's a dispute and I don't know how that disputes going to be resolved.

I'm not disagreeing with you. This will be used, obviously, against the media as a whole. But I hope that we can see past that will be smarter than that. I hope the President doesn't got everybody else to use it against the press.

HABERMAN: I think that the President is very likely if that's just (INAUDIBLE). We are going to see this as evidence for his attacks on the media being justified and I think that his supporters would say that that is understandable.

STELTER: But then, we need to keep reinforcing to the audience how much smoke there is.

HABERMAN: But I think --

STELTER: There's a massive fire, so much evidence of wrongdoing. HABERMAN: Right. But we do, do that. We do that every day. I think that there are two important things to remember that part of why -- if the media get something wrong, and Ben Smith is saying they stand by their reporting, if the media gets something wrong, it is incumbent on us to correct it.

[20:55:07] And I understand that it is frustrating to the press and also to people who believe in the press that the White House does not necessarily follow that same standard for themselves, but that has nothing to do with what we do.

STELTER: Right, we have to keep our standards high --

HABERMAN: Correct.

STELTER: -- even if others are low. And in this case, you know, one of the things that comes to mind when you see a story with two sources, obviously you're going to need two sources not just one. But when I read the story last night, I wanted a third source, I wanted a fourth source, I wanted more corroboration. And I think that's what the public expects as well, as much as possible on these stories.

What I love is when "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" publishes a story with the dozen people are described in various behavior in the White House, that's the goal. That should be the goal.

COOPER: Do you -- when you read two federal law enforcement sources, I think that was the phrase that they used. What do you interpret that to me? Because clearly --

STELTER: Yes.

COOPER: -- Mueller -- one of the things you've pointed out is, you know, if the reason Mueller put out the statement is -- was concerned that people thought it was somebody on the Mueller team, I guess.

BHARARA: You know, Jeff's point, an excellent point.

COOPER: OK.

BHARARA: I don't know my speculation and here we are talking about how you shouldn't speculate, so here I'll go. I find it very hard to believe that sort of imbedded law enforcement agents who are working full time, around the clock on the core of what the Mueller investigation is doing that they were the sources for this. I just --

COOPER: Who has access to information?

BHARARA: So, I don't know. This is ranks speculation to everybody. But in the course of obtaining evidence, sometimes issuing search warrants, sometimes having other people who are not in the core of the group of people who on particular prosecutor's office is dealing with. Sometimes we would have cases where you'd have your core agents, but then you would need assistance from some other agency or some other police force that the two law enforcement agents, and again I'm guessing but, you know, we're --

COOPER: So then there's other --

BHARARA: There's other folks you can --

(CROSSTALK)

BHARARA: -- who characterize things in a particularly strong way I think.

TOOBIN: You know, there are lots and lots of people who have access to bad information and they are often willing to share it with reporters. That's the problem that we have a lot of the time.

You know, in the great press movie, the "Absence of Malice" with Sally Field and Paul Newman, she -- Paul Newman who's the source, who's the person who's born -- who's burnt by Sally Field, the reporter. She says, "We tell the truth." And no -- he says, "No, you just write what people say." And he's right, we do. We were dependent on our sources. And sometimes our sources are no good and we rely on the wrong people and that maybe what happen here.

COOPER: So what happens now? I mean, the White House tomorrow we're going to hear a lot more about this obviously and justifiably because it was in the news all day today.

HABERMAN: President is going to be doing at least one event tomorrow, which is we expect to be an announcement about the government shutdown. I don't believe he's going to declare a national emergency, but I suspect that he is going to use it as an opportunity to describe what he sees as a national emergency --

COOPER: Right.

HABERMAN: -- because he thinks the investigation into him is something representing that.

I don't think he's going to let this go and so I think then it's going to depend on -- Ben Smith said that they're continuing to report. I think it's going to depend on whether there is more corroboration of their story, what other additional reporting we see. I will say it has been impossible to predict a week out during his presidency.

COOPER: Right, yes.

HABERMAN: So I'm trying to predict a few days out seeing this.

COOPER: I can't even remember --

HABERMAN: It seems unwise.

(CROSSTALK)

HABERMAN: Right, no. But, look -- but we don't know. I mean, we don't -- I don't exactly know. As Ben said, I don't know what they're disputing, right? And I don't think we're going to get more detail on what they are disputing, at least not from an official channel. So, we're going to go out and see.

COOPER: But -- I mean, Ben wouldn't go into details on this, but it would be normal procedure to ask the Mueller team to comment on a story --

HABERMAN: Of course.

COOPER: -- that they're reporting.

HABERMAN: No. I mean, listen, I think that part of -- I mean, all of our frustrations on covering this story at various has been that the Mueller team just -- will not comment on almost anything. And we are all trying to get things right. I think Jeffrey makes a very important point, which is true for all of us.

And, you know, my husband who is a journalist was the first person ever said this to me that, you know, we are all just as good as our sources, and that is true. I think that would -- again, I don't know who BuzzFeed's sources are and I'm not willing to impugn other people's sources. And I think the two reporters here have had very solid records on this story. So, I would like to wait and see where this goes. That's just me.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Thank you all. This is a good discussion tonight.

The news continues. I want to hand the things over to Chris Cuomo. "Cuomo Prime Time" starts now. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Prime Time."

We have breaking news, Robert Mueller's team breaking its silence about the report that is ricocheted around Washington in the last 24 hours and they have a different story.