A lawyer representing former Trump attorney Michael Cohen said Wednesday that Cohen directed a lawyer last year to inquire about possibly receiving a pardon from President Trump.
The disclosure by Lanny Davis, reported by the Wall Street Journal, contradicted testimony by Cohen last week on Capitol Hill, in which Cohen told members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee: “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.”
According to the Journal story, Davis said Cohen “directed his attorney” to ask about a possible pardon. The newspaper adds that it previously reported that Stephen Ryan, a past attorney for Cohen, discussed a pardon with President Trump’s lawyers in the weeks after FBI agents raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room.
Wednesday’s remarks by Davis marked at least the second time the lawyer has acknowledged information in contrast to what Cohen has said on Capitol Hill.
Last week, Davis said in a statement that Cohen speculated about taking a job at the White House, even though Cohen told House panel members that he hadn’t done so. But Davis stopped short of saying that Cohen wasn’t being truthful in his testimony.
“If this is what Mr. Trump and his supporters are focusing on — and not a single rebuttal of any fact asserted by Mr. Cohen in his long day of testimony under oath before the Oversight Committee — that says a lot,” Davis said Friday. “This is the classic Trump tactic we have seen for a long time —divert and disparage rather than confront facts and tell the truth.”
Regarding pursuit of a pardon, sources told the Journal that three Trump lawyers – Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow and Joanna Hendon – rejected the idea of a pardon for Cohen, though Giuliani did not dismiss the idea of a pardon at a later date.
Giuliani said earlier this week that he offers a standard response when lawyers inquire about a presidential pardon for their client:
“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.
But he added that he also responds, “Whatever happens in the future, that is [the president’s] prerogative.”
Giuliani would not confirm if lawyers for Cohen were among those with which he has met, the Journal reported.