Two Republicans on the House Oversight Committee on Thursday referred ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen to the Justice Department for alleged perjury, accusing him of making intentionally false statements during his public testimony Wednesday.
Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mark Meadows, (R-N.C.) sent a six-page letter to newly sworn-in Attorney General William Barr on Thursday, citing several instances where they say Cohen had been less than truthful during his seven-hour testimony.
“We write to refer significant evidence that Michael D. Cohen committed perjury and knowingly made false statements during his testimony before an Oversight and Reform Committee hearing,” the pair wrote. “While testifying under oath, Mr. Cohen made what appear to be numerous willfully and intentionally false statements of material fact contradicted by the record established by the Justice Department in United States v. Cohen.”
The letter continues: “Mr. Cohen’s testimony before the Committee at times was in direct contradiction to assertions contained in pleadings authored by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY.) There are other instances in which Mr. Cohen’s statements to the Committee were immediately contradicted by witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the subject matter.”
Jordan and Meadows called Cohen’s testimony “a spectacular and brazen attempt to knowing [sic] and willfully testify falsely and fictitiously to numerous material facts,” alleging that the false statements were “designed to make himself look better on a national stage.”
Rep. Jordan ans Rep. Meadows are referring Michael Cohen to the Justice Department on allegations he lied during his testimony yesterday. They wrote a 30-page letter to AG Barr outlining several statements they say were false https://t.co/XGAPP9Lryw pic.twitter.com/IrFaOubRRk
— Christal Hayes (@Journo_Christal) February 28, 2019
They cited Cohen’s claim that he “never defrauded any bank” as one of the false statements he allegedly made before the committee, arguing that it contrasted with his plea agreement that referred to his crimes as “bank fraud.”
“This point—Mr. Cohen’s culpability for bank fraud—materially affects the Committee’s assessment of his credibility,” the lawmakers wrote.
Jordan and Meadows also claimed that Cohen made false statements in regard to his apparently well-known desire to get a job in the Trump White House.
“Mr. Cohen repeatedly testified that he did not seek employment in the White House following President Trump’s election,” they wrote. “This is demonstrable, materially, and intentionally false.”
During the hearing, Jordan accused Cohen of turning on Trump because he didn’t get a job at the White House. Cohen denied it, saying that he simply wished to be “the personal attorney to the president.”
“I got exactly what I wanted,” Cohen said.
Several Trump insiders, including the president’s own sons, immediately contradicted Cohen’s testimony on Twitter following the exchange,
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 27, 2019
Michael Cohen asked me to support his effort to be Chief of Staff when I helped run the Presidential Transition Team. He perjured himself today.
— David Bossie (@David_Bossie) February 28, 2019
Michael Cohen asked…no, BEGGED me REPEATEDLY, to ask the POTUS to give him a job in the Administration! He’s STILL lying under oath!
— Dr.Darrell Scott (@PastorDScott) February 27, 2019
Getting sick watching these hearings. I know Michael Cohen personally for many years and he told me several times that he was very angry and upset that he didn't get a post in the WH and that he "would do what he has to do now to protect his family " @seanhannity @potus
— Bo Dietl (@BoDietl) February 27, 2019
Cohen: “I didn’t want to go to the White House.” LIAR. He complained to me on numerous occasions about the fact that POTUS didn’t offer him a job at the WH. #CohenTestimony
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) February 27, 2019
Everyone on or around the campaign either heard him talking about a job in the WH or heard the jokes about him thinking he was up for a job in the WH. He’s a professional liar — he can’t help himself. #CohenTestimony https://t.co/nqaafZB6fa
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) February 27, 2019
The GOP lawmakers also flagged Cohen’s failure to list foreign contracts on a “Truth and Testimony” form he was required to fill out before the hearing.
Additionally, Jordan and Meadows questioned Cohen’s dubious claims regarding the hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen testified that he was “a good lawyer who understood the need to present his client with sound legal advice,” yet he also said he made a payment to Daniels “without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do.”
Finally, Jordan and Meadows accused Cohen of making a false statement when he denied that he created a Twitter fan account for himself called @WomenForCohen. The Republicans say he allegedly had asked someone to create the account to “elevate his profile.”
Democrats made Cohen their star witness in their case against President Trump after he pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress last year, in addition to “five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a banking institution, one count of causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of excessive campaign contributions.”
Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, said in a statement Thursday that his client testified “truthfully” before the committee.
“He took full responsibility for his guilty pleas. He also backed up much of his testimony with documents,” Davis said. “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.”