President Trump accused his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, of lying during his incendiary testimony before the House Oversight Committee last month, saying on Twitter that Cohen “directly asked me for a pardon” and “badly wanted to work at the White House.”
“Bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen said under sworn testimony that he never asked for a Pardon. His lawyers totally contradicted him. He lied!” Mr. Trump tweeted. “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!”
Mr. Trump’s assertions bring the number of false statements Cohen is accused of making to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee last week to three. He claimed during his testimony that Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow edited his fraudulent testimony before a Senate panel in August 2017, that he never asked for a pardon, and that he never wanted to work for the White House.
Trump lawyers edited his Senate statement
Last week, Cohen testified that he lied to Congress about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations, and told the House panel Mr. Trump’s attorneys had edited his 2017 testimony to the Senate about the timing of the project.
“Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it,” Cohen said on Feb. 27, before the House Oversight Committee.
Cohen told the Senate will serve two months in prison for lying to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the project, a sentence that will be served at the same time as his sentence for campaign finance violations and other crimes.
Sekulow has denied that there were any edits to Cohen’s testimony by Trump attorneys. Cohen haswith his original statement for his 2017 Senate Intelligence testimony and included all the versions of the testimony that had previously been submitted, but those documents have not been publicly released.
Cohen had told the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 that the plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow had been dropped by the end of January 2016. In fact, discussions, through as late as June 2016, when it was apparent that Mr. Trump had clinched the GOP presidential nomination.
Did he ask for a pardon from Trump?
Cohen is also accused of lying to the House Oversight Committee about asking to be pardoned by President Trump. He told lawmakers, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.”
However, Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis confirmed that in the months after the FBI raid on Cohen’s office and home, Cohen was open to a pardon from Mr. Trump. Those details differ from Cohen’s testimony. Davis confirmed that Cohen had initially directed his legal team to explore the idea of a pardon with Mr. Trump’s attorneys, including Rudy Giuliani. Davis explained in a statement that when Cohen said he had “never” asked for a pardon, “never,” in essence, had a start date of “after July 2, 2018.”
“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. 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. 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,” Davis said in a statement to CBS.
Did Cohen want a job in the White House?
Cohen also claimed during his testimony that he never asked Mr. Trump for a job in the White House. He said that he had been offered “jobs” in the White House that he had turned down.
“I did not want to go to the White House,” he told the House Oversight Committee last week. “I was offered jobs. I can tell you a story of Mr. Trump reaming out Reince Priebus because I had not taken a job where Mr. Trump wanted me to, which is working with Don McGahn at the White House general counsel’s office.” He continued, “I brought a lawyer in who produced a memo as to why I should not go in, because there would be no attorney-client privilege. And in order to handle some of the matters that I talked about in my opening, that it would be best suited for me not to go in and that every president had a personal attorney.”
Trump sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. both said Cohen was lying when he said this.
“Michael was lobbying EVERYONE to be ‘Chief of Staff.’ It was the biggest joke in the campaign and around the office. Did he just perjure himself again?” Eric wondered on Twitter.
Trump Jr. echoed his brother, tweeting, “Michael Cohen begged to work at the White House and everyone knows it.” He added that it was the “biggest joke of the entire transition. The beginning of his bitterness was when he realized that was never going to happen.”
Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings told CBS News that he would follow up on the allegations that Cohen lied.
“Sure we’re going to follow up on it. I told Michael Cohen that if he came in and he lied, that I would nail him to the cross. And I meant that,” Cummings said. “What we’re going to do, we’re going to be methodical in my committee. We’re going to look at all the evidence, and we will make a determination. The most important thing for me is integrity. I will protect the integrity of our committee.”
Rebecca Kaplan, Paula Reid and Major Garrett contributed reporting