In his testimony under oath to the House Oversight Committee last week, Michael Cohen was definitive: “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.”
But like so many things Trump’s former personal lawyer said that day, that may well turn out to be a lie.
“An attorney for Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, raised the possibility of a pardon with attorneys for the president and his company after federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s properties in April, according to people familiar with the discussions,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
“Conversations among those parties are now being probed by congressional investigators, according to document requests issued Monday by the House Judiciary Committee to dozens of Trump associates, including one of the president’s current lawyers and Mr. Cohen.”
The Journal said it was unclear if Cohen was behind the pardon request or if he even knew about it. “Mr. Cohen stands by his testimony before the House Oversight Committee,” a spokeswoman told the Journal.
In that testimony, Cohen said: “I have lied but I am not a liar. … I have fixed things, but I am no longer your fixer, Mr. Trump.” And during questioning from lawmakers, Cohen repeated his assertion that he never asked for a pardon and declared that he wouldn’t take a presidential pardon if offered one.
Cohen is set to go to jail May 6 after pleading guilty to charges of bank and tax fraud, lying to Congress under oath, and campaign finance violations.
The Washington Post said that in subsequent hearings on Capitol Hill, some behind closed doors and not open to the media, Cohen has been asked about his assertion. The real interest in the story is that, as the Post says, it may implicate Trump in something bigger.
“Lawmakers are investigating whether President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was involved in any discussions about possible pardons — which they view as a potentially ripe area of inquiry into whether anyone sought to obstruct justice, people familiar with the matter said,” the Post reported.
Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, declined to comment on the closed-door testimony, though he said on MSNBC on Thursday night that “new information was developed that could be game-changing,” and that it was about “lying and obstruction evidence.”
“It’s pretty explosive,” he said.
Trump has ripped Cohen for committing “perjury on a scale not seen before.”
“Michael Cohen’s book manuscript shows that he committed perjury on a scale not seen before. He must have forgotten about his book when he testified. What does Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, say about this one. Is he being paid by Crooked Hillary. Using her lawyer?” the president wrote in a tweet March 1.
Trump also said “Congress must demand the transcript of Michael Cohen’s new book, given to publishers a short time ago. Your heads will spin when you see the lies, misrepresentations and contradictions against his Thursday testimony. Like a different person! He is totally discredited! … and the fraudulent and dishonest statements he made on Wednesday. No way, it’s time to stop this corrupt and illegally brought Witch Hunt. Time to start looking at the other side where real crimes were committed. Republicans have been abused long enough. Must end now!”