In his testimony before the House Oversight Committee last Wednesday Michael Cohen said he has “never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.”
However, that testimony did not apply to his lawyer.
The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that an attorney representing Cohen broached the idea of a pardon for the former Trump Organization lawyer and “fixer” during a conversation last year with lawyers for Donald Trump,
According to the Journal, Cohen lawyer Stephen Ryan discussed the possibility of a pardon with three different Trump attorneys: Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon. The newspaper said that the attorney discussions took place shortly after the FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and office in April of last year. The raid gathered evidence relating to the $130,000 payment he made to Daniels under a hush money agreement.
Later Cohen’s attorneys reviewed files seized by the FBI to determine which ones may have qualified for attorney-client privilege.
According to the Journal, Ryan told Trump’s attorneys that Cohen would be cooperating with federal prosecutors if he did not receive a pardon from the president.
At that time Trump’s attorneys rejected the idea of pardoning Cohen the Journal reported. But Giuliani reportedly “left the door open” to a presidential pardon at some future time. The former New York City mayor during his many television appearances representing the president has repeatedly said that Trump is not likely to issue any pardons for his former associates during ongoing federal investigations.
The Journal article does not say or imply that Cohen knew about the conversations about pardons that his lawyer had initiated. It also does not say that Trump’s former attorney personally requested a pardon from the president.
Cohen worked for over a decade for Donald Trump as a personal lawyer and also as a lawyer on the payroll of Trump’s business, The Trump Organization. He testified last week to Congress that his former boss was a “conman” and a “racist” who engaged in potentially criminal conduct during the 2016 campaign and while in the White House.
Cohen’s current attorney, Lanny Davis, issued a public statement rejecting a hypothetical presidential pardon last August. That was when Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felony charges, including bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. Cohen is due to report to federal prison in May to begin serving his three-year sentence.
Cohen is named as one of the 81 individuals and entities who received document requests yesterday from the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler.
Nadler’s committee is beginning a massive investigation into the Trump’s administration, his business, his charity and his presidential campaign.
Among the documents lawmakers requested from Cohen are “any files related to possible pardons related for Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, or yourself.”
Trump initially decried the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s office and home as a “disgrace,” but has since taken aim at his longtime lawyer, accusing him of lying to secure a shorter prison sentence. Cohen’s testimony, however, was very credible and it is widely known that he had no motivation to lie since further lying would have increased the length of his prison sentence.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.