In the wake of a bombshell report from BuzzFeed alleging that President Trump instructed his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, presidential historian Jon Meacham mentioned that the first article of impeachment against former President Richard M. Nixon was “obstruction by directing others to lie” — an action that BuzzFeed’s report alleges Trump directly took.
“The first article of impeachment against Nixon was just this: obstruction by directing others to lie.” Meachman tweeted on Friday. “This is not hysteria or hyperventilating. It’s history.”
The first article of impeachment against Nixon was just this: obstruction by directing others to lie. This is not hysteria or hyperventilating. It’s history.
— Jon Meacham (@jmeacham) January 18, 2019
The BuzzFeed report published this Thursday states that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about efforts during the 2016 presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, along with an alleged plan to have Cohen travel to Moscow to negotiate the construction plans and to meet with Putin.
“Make it happen,” Trump allegedly told Cohen at the time.
[Mueller] learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.
This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
But Cohen’s testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.
On the campaign trail, Trump vehemently denied having any business interests in Russia. But behind the scenes, he was pushing the Moscow project, which he hoped could bring his company profits in excess of $300 million. The two law enforcement sources said he had at least 10 face-to-face meetings with Cohen about the deal during the campaign.
Nixon was never impeached because he resigned in 1974 just after articles of impeachment against him were introduced.
Trump fired back at the report and accused Cohen of lying to reduce his jail time. He also suggested Cohen’s father-in-law be “watched,” echoing previous comments he made on Fox News where he said that Cohen “should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at.”
Update: BuzzFeed has issued an update to their story, saying that a spokesperson for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office said that their description of certain aspects of Michael Cohen’s testimony is “not accurate.”