Congress Probing If Trump Used Pardon Offers to Obstruct Justice

Michael Cohen’s testimony before congressional investigators last week resulted in a new line of inquiry, The Washington Post has reported.

Lawmakers with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees reportedly questioned Donald Trump‘s former attorney about whether he and high-level members of the Trump administration had discussed a potential presidential pardon.

Anonymous sources reportedly told The Post that Cohen and members of Congress on the two committees talked at length with Cohen this week about whether he had discussed the possibility of accepting a pardon from Trump for the crimes he pleaded guilty to last year.

The Post reported:

“Lawmakers are investigating whether President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was involved in any discussions about possible pardons — which they view as a potentially ripe area of inquiry into whether anyone sought to obstruct justice.” 

“Cohen has said publicly he never asked for — and would not accept — a pardon from Trump. But people familiar with the matter said his knowledge on the topic seems to extend beyond that statement.”

“It was not immediately clear what, if anything, Cohen told lawmakers to pique their interest. Depending on the details, such pardon talks could be incendiary, suggesting an effort to dissuade Cohen from cooperating with law enforcement.”

We don’t know what Cohen told the congressional investigators about discussions on pardons, but the Post did say that Cohen’s lawyer told MSNBC a day after his public testimony that “pretty explosive” information on potential obstruction of justice by Trump had been discussed with lawmakers.

Most observers took this to mean that Cohen provided testimony alleging Trump had tried to buy him off by offering a pardon if Cohen would agree not to testify against him.

The lawmakers and Cohen discussed “new information … that could be game changing,” in closed-door testimony related to “lying and obstruction evidence,” Lanny Davis said in an interview.

Cohen will start his three-year prison sentence for bank fraud and campaign finance violations, along with other financial crimes, later this year.

The former Trump “fixer” spoke to the House Oversight and Reform Committee in explosive testimony on Wednesday in which he referred to his former boss as a “racist,” a “cheat,” and a “con man.”

The White House and allies of the president sought to discredit Cohen amid his testimony this week, noting his previous admission to making false statements while under oath.