Michael Cohen's lawyer appears to contradict his congressional testimony, says Cohen 'directed' his attorneys to explore possible pardon from Trump

  • Michael Cohen’s lawyer appeared to contradict his testimony to the House Oversight Committee on Thursday.
  • Cohen told the panel, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from [President Donald Trump].”
  • But Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement to reporters that Cohen “directed” one of his lawyers to explore the possibility of a presidential pardon, and that he was “open to the ongoing ‘dangling’ of a possible pardon” by Trump’s representatives.

Lanny Davis, an attorney representing Michael Cohen, told reporters Cohen “directed” one of his lawyers last year to explore the possibility of a presidential pardon. At the time, Cohen was at the center of a growing criminal investigation into his and President Donald Trump’s financial dealings before the 2016 election.

“Prior to Michael Cohen’s decision to leave the ‘Joint Defence Group’ and tell the truth on July 2, 2018 Michael was open to the ongoing ‘dangling’ of a possible pardon by Trump representatives privately and in the media,” Davis said in a statement to The New York Times on Thursday.

“During that time period, he directed his attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump,” the statement continued.

“But after July 2, 2018, Mr. Cohen authorised me as a new lawyer to say publicly Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from President Trump even if offered. That continues to be the case. And his statement at the Oversight Hearing was true – and consistent with his post joint defence agreement commitment to tell the truth,” the statement said.

Davis’ acknowledgement that Cohen at one point sought a pardon appears to contradict his testimony to the House Oversight Committee last month, during which he told lawmakers, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.”

Cohen pleaded guilty to several counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign-finance violations as part of a Manhattan US attorney’s office investigation into hush-money payments Cohen facilitated during the 2016 campaign to women who claim to have had affairs with Trump. He also pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight Committee warned that they would refer Cohen to the Justice Department for criminal charges if it emerged that he misled lawmakers during his congressional testimony last month.

Republican Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan have already made one such criminal referral and urged the Justice Department to investigate Cohen’s statements, including his contention that he never wanted to work in the White House.

Jordan and Meadows said in a statement that they have proof Cohen “committed perjury and knowingly made false statements.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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