Cohen: Trump Lawyer Lied to Congress 05/21 06:17
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen,
told Congress it was Trump's personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, who suggested he
tell lawmakers that the negotiations for Trump Tower Moscow ended in January
2016, even though they continued for months after that.
The House Intelligence Committee on Monday released two transcripts of
closed-door interviews with Cohen from earlier this year, along with some
exhibits from the testimony. Cohen, who is serving a three-year prison
sentence, pleaded guilty last year and admitted that he misled Congress by
saying he had abandoned the Trump Tower Moscow project months earlier than he
During the interviews, legislators repeatedly pressed Cohen for details on
his false statement to Congress and tried to nail down whether he was directly
told by Trump's legal team to mislead the committee, but the transcripts
provide no slam-dunk evidence.
Cohen offered no direct proof that Sekulow knew the January 2016 date we
false, but Cohen claims Sekulow should have known because he had access to
relevant emails and other communications as part of an agreement between
defense attorneys to share documents.
Attorneys for Sekulow said Cohen's testimony is not credible.
"Michael Cohen's alleged statements are more of the same from him and
confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York
that Cohen's 'instinct to blame others is strong,'" Sekulow's lawyers, Jane
Serene Raskin and Patrick Strawbridge, said in a statement. "That this or any
Committee would rely on the word of Michael Cohen for any purpose - much less
to try and pierce the attorney-client privilege and discover confidential
communications of four respected lawyers - defies logic, well-established law
and common sense."
Cohen said Trump also knew the negotiations had continued far beyond January
2016 and that Sekulow had seen his testimony in advance of submission. He also
claimed that Sekulow edited the statement and that both Sekulow and Trump
approved it. Cohen also provided documents to the intelligence panel that
showed the editing process for the statement.
When asked whether Trump had read his "false written testimony," Cohen
replied: "Mr. Sekulow said that he spoke to the client and that, you know, the
client likes it and that it's good."
In addition to the questioning about his false testimony, much of the
discussion during Cohen's interviews related to pardons and whether Trump or
his lawyers were dangling them in front of Cohen as the government began to
Cohen told the intelligence committee that he was discussing the possibility
of a pardon with Sekulow, up until Cohen abandoned their joint-defense
agreement and publicly broke from the president in mid-2018. He said Sekulow
was representing him, not the president, when he brought up the idea of a
pardon during a May 2017 Oval Office meeting with Trump. The discussions
continued after Sekulow became Trump's lawyer and Cohen retained other counsel,
Sekulow was "dangling the concept of pardons" to keep people in Trump's
inner circle in line, Cohen testified.
"Mr. Sekulow stated that the President loves you, don't worry, everything is
going to be fine, nothing is going to happen," Cohen testified.
Cohen said he only discussed the idea of a pardon with Sekulow, not Trump or
anyone at the White House, but that he believes the discussions were done with
Trump's knowledge and authority. He said Sekulow had brought up the possibility
of a pardon to "shut down the inquiries and to shut the investigation down."
Cohen became a key figure in congressional investigations after turning on
his former boss and cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia
probe. Mueller's final report, released in April, examined conduct related to
Cohen as one of several possible instances of obstruction of justice by the
president. Cohen was also convicted in federal court in New York of campaign
finance violations for his role in buying the silence of two women who alleged
they had affairs with Trump, as well as other crimes. He began serving a prison
sentence earlier this month.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a
statement last week that Cohen's testimony this year, along with materials in
the committee's possession, raises "serious, unresolved concerns about the
obstruction of our committee's investigation that we would be negligent not to
In an apparent attempt to deflect attention away from Cohen's testimony and
its implication for Trump, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee,
Rep. Doug Collins, released transcripts of interviews with former Attorney
General Loretta Lynch and several other current or former Justice Department
officials, including many who played key roles in the Hillary Clinton email
The Intelligence committee is also seeking more information about Cohen's
2017 testimony from four lawyers for the Trump family.
The lawyers who received the requests from the committee are Sekulow; Abbe
Lowell, lawyer for Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter, and her husband,
Jared Kushner; Alan Futerfas, lawyer for Donald Trump Jr.; and Alan Garten,
lawyer for the Trump Organization.