Cohen gives Congress versions of 2017 testimony on Moscow project

At the request of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, President Trump’s former attorney and personal fixer Michael Cohen provided all the versions of an August 2017 statement he made to the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding the development of a Trump Tower project in Moscow. Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last week that his Senate testimony had been edited by the president’s attorneys.

“Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it,” Cohen said on Feb. 27.

One of those attorneys, he said, was Jay Sekulow, who has denied the allegation.

Cohen’s original statement had been circulated among the lawyers in the joint defense agreement, which included lawyers for the president, the Trump family, and the Trump Organization, a source familiar with the Cohen documents told CBS. Edits were suggested by attorneys.

During Wednesday’s closed-door session, Cohen provided the House Intelligence Committee with his original statement for his 2017 Senate Intelligence testimony and included the edits and the final version that had previously been submitted for his appearance before the Senate panel, the source said. This was first reported by CNN.

“Mr. Cohen responded to all questions truthfully and has agreed at the request of chairman Schiff to provide additional information in the future, if needed,” Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in a statement Wednesday. “He also offered to answer additional questions from Republican members. He remains committed to telling the truth and cooperating with authorities.”

Cohen testified that the president “knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it.”

“He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project. And so I lied about it, too, because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie,” Cohen said.

Cohen had told the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 that the plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow had been dropped by the end of January 2016, when in fact the discussions went on for several more months through as late as June 2016, when it was apparent that Mr. Trump had clinched the GOP presidential nomination. Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress, among other charges, and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

Meanwhile, Davis confirmed to CBS News that in the months after and FBI raid on their client’s office and home, Cohen was open to a pardon from Mr. Trump. Those details differ from Cohen’s testimony last week before the House Oversight Committee. He told lawmakers, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.”

Davis confirmed that Cohen had initially directed his legal team to explore the idea of a pardon with Mr. Trump’s attorney’s, including Rudy Giuliani, and he put a timeline on what “never” means, explaining that when Cohen said he had “never asked for” a pardon from Mr. Trump, “never” had a start date of “after July 2, 2018.”

“Prior to Michael Cohen’s decision to leave the “Joint Defense Group” and tell the truth on July 2, 2018, Michael was open to the ongoing ‘dangling’ of a possible pardon by Trump representatives privately and in the media.  During that time period, he directed his attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump. But after July 2, 2018, Mr. Cohen authorized me as a new lawyer to say publicly Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from President Trump even if offered. That continues to be the case. And his statement at the Oversight Hearing was true — and consistent with his post joint defense agreement commitment to tell the truth,” Davis said in a statement to CBS.

Sekulow told CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett, however, that Cohen had never discussed the possibility of a pardon with the president’s legal team.

“Not true,” he said. “Is that clear enough?”

Reporting by Paula Reid and Major Garrett

Categories: Government & Politics, US & World News

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