The Associated Press (AP) is reporting this morning that two of the most powerful members of the U.S. House of Representatives have promised to fully investigate the new report from Buzzfeed News that President Donald Trump directed his attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, to lie under oath.
Cohen gave false testimony before two congressional committees about his and the president’s involvement in a Russian real estate deal, the building of a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The Democratic chairmen of two important House committees — the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee — made the pledge on Friday to investigate the Buzzfeed report which was published on Thursday night.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said “we will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.” He said the allegation that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie in his 2017 testimony to Congress “in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date.”
The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date. We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true. https://t.co/GljBAFqOjh
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 18, 2019
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, said directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime.
“We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work,” Nadler tweeted.
We know that the President has engaged in a long pattern of obstruction. Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime. The @HouseJudiciary Committee’s job is to get to the bottom of it, and we will do that work.
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) January 18, 2019
The report by BuzzFeed News said that they had discussed the allegations of Trump’s crimes with two unnamed law enforcement officials. They told the news source that Trump gave explicit orders to Cohen to lie to Congress. They also said that Cohen regularly kept Trump and his family informed about the progress of the planned the Moscow real estate project.
Cohen’s activities in Russia occurred at the same time Trump said he had no business dealings with Russia. Trump wanted to keep his Russian relationships secret, thinking that if they became public knowledge they would hurt his chances of being elected president. Trump lied regularly about his Russian dealings during the campaign, and that is why he also needed to make sure that Cohen lied to Congress.
Cohen’s former attorney and current adviser, Lanny Davis, refused to make any comment on Friday morning concerning the substance of the Buzzfeed report. He said that he and Cohen would not address the many questions that have been raised because they want to respect special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts with the Trump campaign.
The BuzzFeed story says that Cohen has already told Mueller that Trump personally instructed him to lie about the timing of the project in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani issued a statement Friday morning saying, “If you believe Cohen I can get you a good all cash deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress in 2017 to cover up that he was negotiating the real estate deal in Moscow on Trump’s behalf throughout his presidential campaign. The charge was brought by Mueller and was the result of his cooperation with that probe.
Cohen was recently sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax crimes, bank fraud and campaign violations. He is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee February 7.