Two of President Donald Trump’s biggest allies in Congress on Thursday told the Justice Department that Michael Cohen appears to have lied in his sworn testimony to Congress, where he made a slew of damning claims against Trump.
House Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr accusing Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer of making a series of “intentionally false statements designed to make himself look better on a national stage.”
“Mr. Cohen’s testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Reform,” they wrote, “was a spectacular and brazen attempt to knowing [sic] and willfully testify falsely and fictitiously to numerous material facts.”
The two Republicans want the Justice Department to investigate whether Cohen’s allegedly false testimony broke the law.
Cohen, 52, appeared before three congressional committees this week, having already pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion and campaign-finance violations, as well as lying to Congress in prior testimony in 2017. He is scheduled to report to prison in May for a three-year sentence.
Cohen’s spokesman Lanny Davis responded to the accusations in a statement to CNBC:
Mr. Cohen testified truthfully before the House Oversight Committee. He took full responsibility for his guilty pleas. He also backed up much of his testimony with documents. It may not be surprising that two pro-Trump Committee members known [sic] have a baseless criminal referral. In my opinion, it is a sad misuse of the criminal justice system with the aura of pure partisanship.
Jordan and Meadows suggest Cohen lied about:
- The crimes that he has already pleaded guilty to — specifically, when he testified, “I never defrauded any bank.” The lawmakers cite Cohen’s plea agreement with federal prosecutors in New York, which describes one of his crimes as “bank fraud.”
- Whether or not he sought a White House job after Trump was elected president in 2016. Here, Jordan and Meadows point to court filings from federal prosecutors, saying that text messages seized from Cohen say that he “expected to be given a prominent role and title in the new administration.” They also cite multiple tweets from Trump-friendly figures, including former detective Bo Dietl and former Trump campaign aide and pastor Darrell Scott.
- Whether he directed the “commission” of the “Women for Cohen” Twitter account that was created during the 2016 presidential campaign.
- Having no “reportable contracts with foreign government entities,” as he submitted in a form to the committee before his public hearing.
- Being a “good lawyer who understood the need to present his client with sound legal advice.” Jordan and Meadows claim this contradicts a written statement from Cohen.
- Whether Trump directed him and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Wiesselberg to “go back to his office and figure out how” to make a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump years before he became president.
- Committing crimes out of “blind loyalty” to Trump.