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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 
actually did.

   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 
investigate him.

   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, 
Cohen said.

   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 
pursue."

   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 
investigation.

   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.


(KA)

 
 
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