Trump Inadvertently Puts Himself At The Center Of Cohen’s Criminal Case
In an attempt to portray his former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen as a liar, President Donald Trump ended up identifying himself a “key witness” in the federal case.
Trump has been attacking Cohen again, tweeting on Friday morning that his former lawyer “lied” to Congress when he said he never asked for a presidential pardon. According to legal expert Ross Garber, tweeting on this matter was “beyond ill-advised” for the president, Law & Crime reported.
When Cohen (who is set to begin serving a three-year prison sentence in May) publicly testified before the House Oversight Committee on February 27, he stated that he had no interest in a presidential pardon from Trump for any of the crimes he has pleaded guilty to and had not asked him for one. Trump’s tweet targeted this claim directly:
“Bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen said under sworn testimony that he never asked for a Pardon. His lawyers totally contradicted him. He lied! Additionally, he directly asked me for a pardon,” Trump tweeted. “I said NO. He lied again! He also badly wanted to work at the White House. He lied!” the president added.
But in an official statement on Thursday, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, tried to make clear that he is not contradicting his client.
Davis stated that “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 told ABC News Cohen’s claim to Congress was “literally true,’” because his client “never asked President Trump for a pardon. His lawyer explored the disingenuous ‘dangle’ repeatedly floated by Rudy [Giuliani] and Trump in one meeting and never followed up.”
Trump’s new tweet on Friday about the pardon, if true, would show conclusively that Cohen misled Congress on the topic. But Cohen snapped back, calling the president a liar:
Just another set of lies by @POTUS @realdonaldtrump. Mr. President…let me remind you that today is #InternationalWomensDay. You may want use today to apologize for your own #lies and #DirtyDeeds to women like Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) March 8, 2019
Garber, a CNN legal analyst, told Law & Crime, “It is beyond ill-advised for the president to be tweeting about this. Republicans have demanded that DOJ conduct a perjury investigation. And Trump just identified himself as a key witness.”
Trump has previously contradicted other witnesses’ testimony, but he has yet to testify under oath himself, as Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessey observed:
The president is accusing an American citizen of committing a crime by lying about a matter which the president has direct knowledge of. He did the same to Comey. If he wants to accuse people of perjury, he should be willing to do so under the same penalties.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) March 8, 2019