Cohen Lawyer Sends Letter to Congress Clarifying Pardon Talk

MANHATTAN (CN) — Tackling reports that Michael Cohen lied to Congress again, an attorney for President Donald Trump’s former fixer assured lawmakers Tuesday that Cohen never acted on his curiosity of seeking a pardon.

Michael Cohen testified to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 27, 2019. (AP photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In a letter addressed to House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, Cohen attorney Michael Monico said Cohen had asked his lawyers if a pardon would be possible shortly after the FBI raided his New York City home, office and hotel room in April 2018.

Noting that Trump had “publicly dangled the possibility of pardons when commenting about ongoing investigations,” Monico said Cohen in turn “asked his then attorney to discuss with another Trump attorney possible pardon options consistent with the president’s prior public declarations.” 

Though Cohen did not plead guilty to the charges he faced until August last year, reports emerged as early as June that Cohen was going to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and to what extent the Trump campaign collaborated in that effort.

As part of a congressional inquiry of the Russia probe, Cohen had testified in August 2017 before the House and Senate intelligence committees. In November 2018, however, Cohen admitted as part of a second guilty plea that his testimony had been deceptive.

Cohen testified again last month, but lawyer Monico said his client’s statements “could have been clearer and more complete” on the topic of pardons.

Specifically, Cohen had told lawmakers on Feb. 27: “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.” 

Monico said such remarks referred to the fact that Cohen has not sought a pardon since he abandoned his joint-defense with the president.

“In retrospect, while the sentence could have been clearer regarding the time frames, the sentence is true, and Mr. Cohen stands by his statement,” Monico wrote.

Monico denied claims that Trump tweeted Friday about Cohen, who will begin a three-year prison sentence in May. 

“Bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen said under sworn testimony that he never asked for a Pardon,” Trump tweeted. “His lawyers totally contradicted him. He lied! Additionally, he directly asked me for a pardon. I said NO. He lied again!” 

Almost instantly Cohen, replied in a tweet of his own that Trump’s allegations were “just another set of lies.” 

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Thursday he was contacted in May or June about a possible pardon for Cohen, but claims the option was not given consideration.

“As I have said in the past, the president has the right to, and that doesn’t mean he won’t consider it when the investigation is over,” Giuliani said. “But there are no plans to do so.”

Congressional investigators are currently investigating President Trump’s use of pardons as well as whether Trump’s legal team tried to quiet Cohen last year before he turned on the president. 

The House Judiciary Committee is looking into the possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power, surrounding letters to the FBI, the Justice Department and others for documents related to possible pardons. These inquiries are related specifically to letters concerning Cohen, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who have all been convicted as part of Mueller’s investigation.

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