Special Counsel Mueller was thus right to shoot down the BuzzFeed report. Did he do it because he believed the story was damaging to the country? I’d like to think so. Unfortunately, there have been many sensational allegations that have not been shot down in the last two years, based on fabricated evidence and deceptively selective intelligence leaks. We still do not know for sure whether the president is the subject of a criminal investigation, the crimes alleged, and what if any evidence implicates him. That has gone on for a very long time.
To his credit, and notwithstanding the president’s unseemly “witch hunt” riffs, the special counsel has never said a word, or written a single sentence in the many charges he has filed, that hints at criminal culpability on the part of the president. But the specter of prosecution and impeachment has hovered every day.
As a result, I can’t conclude that the special counsel is especially worried about the damage that inaccurate and politically damaging reporting does to the Trump administration. Rather, the BuzzFeed story was different because Mueller’s own reputation was at stake. Because of the way the report was framed, many readers naturally believed Mueller’s own investigators were the source of the leaked — and apparently incorrect — allegations that Trump told Cohen to lie to Congress. Mueller thus corrected the story.