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WASHINGTON – A lawyer for Michael Cohen says that the former Trump fixer directed his former attorney to inquire about a presidential pardon, a claim which, if true, would contradict Cohen’s congressional testimony on Feb. 27.
Lanny Davis told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday night that Cohen instructed Stephen Ryan, his previous lawyer, to raise the prospect of a pardon shortly after the FBI raided Cohen’s home in April 2018.
“During that time period, [Cohen] 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,” Davis told The Journal.
That statement directly contradicts what Cohen told the House Oversight and Reform Committee in public testimony on Feb. 27.
“I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump,” said Cohen, who has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to a variety of federal charges.
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The Journal reported in an earlier story that Trump’s lawyers, including Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, rebuffed Ryan’s pardon discussions. According to that report, it was not clear whether Ryan has been asked by Cohen to discuss a pardon.
“I always give the same answer which is, ‘The president is not going to consider any pardons at this time, and nobody should think that he is,’” Giuliani told The Journal.
He said that he has told other lawyers representing clients ensnared in the Russia probe that, “Whatever happens in the future, that is his prerogative.”
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe on Nov. 29 to lying to Congress in 2017 about his efforts to negotiate a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign. He pleaded guilty in New York on Aug. 21 to tax evasion, bank fraud, and making an illegal campaign contribution in the form of a payment to Stormy Daniels.
Cohen has since flipped on Trump. In his congressional testimony in February, he called his former boss a “conman” and “racist.”