Cohen Once Explored a Pardon, Despite His House Testimony

But his attorney says what Cohen told Congress is 'literally true'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2019 10:45 AM CST

(Newser) – It seems pretty straightforward. When Michael Cohen testified before a House panel last week, he said this: "I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump." But now Cohen attorney Lanny Davis is out with a statement that seems to contradict that assertion—even though Davis simultaneously insists that Cohen was telling the truth. The Wall Street Journal helps unpack it: After a big FBI raid on his offices last year, Cohen "directed his attorney (Stephen Ryan) to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump," says Davis. At the time, Cohen and Trump had what's known as a joint defense agreement, and Davis says once Cohen opted out of that agreement, a pardon was off the table.

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"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," says Davis. "That continues to be the case." What's more, Davis tells ABC News that what Cohen told the House panel was "literally true." By this logic, Cohen "never asked President Trump for a pardon," says Davis. "His lawyer explored the disingenuous 'dangle' repeatedly floated by Rudy (Giuliani) and Trump in one meeting and never followed up." (On Wednesday, Cohen turned over documents to Congress that he says show how Trump attorneys misrepresented the tower project in Russia.)

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