In order to get beyond the "if true" caveat that followed Buzzfeed's explosive report that President Donald Trump personally instructed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, top Democrats on powerful congressional committees vowed to investigate the serious allegations in the story amid growing calls for impeachment proceedings.
"If this report is true, Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice—a felony and a potentially impeachable offense."
—Sen. Bernie SandersDeclaring in a tweet on Friday that "[d]irecting a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.)—chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—promised to use the resources at his committee's disposal to find out whether the reporting is accurate.
"We know that the president has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction," Nadler wrote. "The House Judiciary Committee's job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work."
We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) January 18, 2019
House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also vowed to launch an investigation into the claims in the Buzzfeed report, which the White House denied.
"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," declared Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "We will do what's necessary to find out if it's true."
According to Buzzfeed, which cited two anonymous law enforcement officials, Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller that "the president personally instructed him to lie—by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did—in order to obscure Trump's involvement" in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
While analysts approached Buzzfeed's report with caution given that it is based primarily on the claims of two unnamed officials, legal experts and progressive commentators argued that if the story is true, it is grounds for impeachment.
In a tweet on Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) applauded House Democrats for quickly promising to investigate the allegations in Buzzfeed's story.
"If this report is true, Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice—a felony and a potentially impeachable offense," Sanders wrote. "I am glad that the House will be investigating this serious issue."