- President Donald Trump acknowledged on Friday that he and his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, discussed a presidential pardon last year.
- "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! He also badly wanted to work at the White House. He lied!"
- Cohen testified to the House Oversight Committee that he "never asked for" and would not accept a pardon from Trump.
- But his lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement Thursday that Cohen "directed" one of his lawyers to explore the possibility of a pardon.
- Federal investigators are zeroing in on contacts between Cohen and people linked to Trump that took place following the FBI raids on Cohen’s property last year.
- Cohen told lawmakers he could not go into the specifics of what was discussed, but he said he was aware of "other wrongdoing or illegal act … regarding Donald Trump" that has not yet come to light.
ABC News reported this week that investigators are looking into contacts between Michael Cohen and two lawyers linked to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lead defense lawyer, in the weeks following the FBI’s raids on Cohen’s property last year.
Sources told ABC News the two lawyers first reached out to Cohen in late April and that their discussions went on for about two months. In addition to urging Cohen not to leave his joint defense agreement with Trump, the lawyers also reportedly floated another option: if Cohen decided to leave the agreement, the lawyers could join his legal team and act as a bridge between Cohen and Trump’s lawyers.
The reporting appears to match up with when Cohen testified to the House Oversight Committee that he had been in touch with people connected to Trump "within two months post the [FBI] raid," which took place last April.
When asked what he had communicated with those people about, Cohen said, "Unfortunately, this topic is actually something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York, and I’ve been asked by them not to discuss it, not to talk about these issues."
"Fair enough," Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, who was questioning Cohen, replied. "Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?"
"Yes," Cohen said. "And again, those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York."
(Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
On Friday, Trump confirmed that he discussed a presidential pardon with Cohen as federal prosecutors closed-in on him last year.
"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! He also badly wanted to work at the White House. He lied!"
Trump’s tweet came after Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement to reporters on Thursday that Cohen "directed" one of his lawyers last year to explore the possibility of a presidential pardon.
"Prior to Michael Cohen’s decision to leave the ‘Joint Defense 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 authorized 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 defense agreement commitment to tell the truth," the statement read.
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 in connection with the Manhattan US attorney’s office’s investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 election to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
Cohen also pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress as part of the Russia investigation. He is set to report to prison on May 6 for a three-year sentence.
"Dems star Cohen testified:’I have NEVER asked for…a pardon from Mr. Trump,’" Giuliani tweeted on Thursday. "His lawyer Lanny Davis has said ‘…he(Cohen) directed his attorney to explore … a pardon.’ Never means never ever not after July 2, 2018 which is the latest deception. Another perjury and more prison."
- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sentenced to 47 months in prison in Virginia case
- Michael Cohen’s lawyer appears to contradict his congressional testimony, says Cohen ‘directed’ his attorneys to explore possible pardon from Trump
- Michael Cohen on Capitol Hill: Trump’s former lawyer turns over more documents to US lawmakers