Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, did ask about receiving a pardon from the president’s legal team last year, but that doesn’t mean he lied under oath when he told Congress he didn’t, his defense lawyer said.
Cohen directed one of his attorneys to pursue the question, and the lawyer passed it on to Trump’s legal team following an FBI raid at his New York office and home in April, Lanny Davis, the lawyer now representing Cohen, told ABC News on Wednesday.
Because Cohen didn’t ask Trump for a pardon directly, Cohen was truthful when he told the House oversight committee last week that he “never asked for” one from the president, Davis said.
The Washington Post reported it confirmed Cohen told his then-lawyer, Stephen Ryan, to inquire about a possible pardon.
Cohen, who in May is scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence for tax crimes and lying to Congress about a Trump hotel project in Russia, was asked during his congressional testimony last week whether he checked into a pardon.
“I have never asked for it, nor would I have accepted, a pardon from President Trump,” he answered.
Davis pointed out that Cohen’s then-lawyer raised the pardon inquiry with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, at a time when Cohen still enjoyed Trump’s good graces and was part of a joint defense agreement, or JDA.
This, Davis argued, further shows that Cohen’s insistence that he “never asked for” a pardon from Trump was truthful, since the denial came from “post-JDA Michael Cohen.”
“We stand by [Cohen’s] public testimony before Oversight Committee as referring to post-JDA time frame statement,” Davis told ABC News. “He authorized me after July 2 to say he would never accept a pardon if offered and I did. That is the post-JDA Michael Cohen, committed to change his life and tell the truth.”
Cohen, reached by HuffPost in an email on Thursday, referred questions to Davis’ office, which did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment.