Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer — who was sentenced to three years in prison in December for, among a long list of things, lying to Congress — has filled up the headlines this week with his big testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee in which he declared his former boss a “con man” and “racist” who is guilty of all sorts of “illicit acts.” But while Michael Cohen has promised to, unlike last time, provide Congress “accurate and truthful” testimony, on Thursday he ended up getting referred to the Justice Department for perjury.
“I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility,” Cohen told the committee in his prepared opening statement Wednesday. “It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.”
But some who participated in the hearing disagree that the convicted felon lived up to his promise of accuracy and truthfulness in his testimony. On Thursday, Reps. Jim Jordan (OH) and Mark Meadows (NC) — the two Republican congressmen who ended up generating some of the most incendiary fireworks in Cohen’s testimony Wednesday — sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr referring Cohen for investigation for perjury.
“We write to refer significant evidence that Michael D. Cohen committed perjury and knowingly made false statements during his testimony before an Oversight and Reform Committee (Committee) hearing titled, ‘Hearing with Michael Cohen, Former attorney for President Donald Trump’ on February 27, 2019,” the letter begins.
“While testifying under oath, Mr. Cohen made what appear to be numerous willfully and intentionally false statements of material fact contradicted by the record established by the Justice Department in United States v. Cohen, 18-cr-602 (S.D.N.Y.) (WHP),” the letter continues. “Mr. Cohen’s testimony was at times in direct contradiction to assertions contained in pleadings authored by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). There are other instances in which Mr. Cohen’s statements to the Committee were immediately contradicted by witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the subject matter.”
Jordan and Meadows then lay out a series of accusations about specific statements made by Cohen to the committee and providing over 20 pages of exhibits. Among the accusations are that Cohen falsely claimed the had never defrauded a bank, for which he has already pleaded guilty, and that he did not covet a White House job, which multiple sources have refuted, including CNN reporters. Read the full list of accusations as detailed in the six-page letter here.
Cohen’s “television lawyer,” Lanny Davis, has responded to the perjury referral. “Mr. Cohen testified truthfully before the House Oversight Committee,” he said in a statement reported by The Hill. “He took full responsibility for his guilty pleas. He also backed up much of his testimony with documents.” The “baseless” referral, he suggested, is just a political move by “two pro-Trump Committee members” intended to distract from the hearing. Accusing his client of perjury is “a sad misuse of the criminal justice system,” he said.