House Democrats on Wednesday shot down a GOP measure to refer the congressional testimony of President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to the Justice Department for a perjury investigation.
Democrat Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced a vote on Rep. Mark Green’s (R-Tenn. resolution on Tuesday. “Will Democrats join us in defending the integrity of the House?” Green wondered on Twitter.
Democrats answered that question with a resounding “no,” tabling the resolution in a 226-183 vote along party lines.
Democrats refused to defend the integrity of the House. By voting against the resolution referring Cohen’s testimony to the DOJ, they’ve now suggested you can lie to Congress as long as testimony tries to hurt Trump. Democrats have just endorsed a two-tiered system of justice! https://t.co/Al8GC14rsu
— Rep. Mark Green (@RepMarkGreen) May 1, 2019
As Green noted, their votes against the resolution speak volumes.
After Cohen’s explosive testimony before the House Oversight Committee in February, Republicans cited numerous instances where they said Trump’s former “fixer” may have committed perjury.
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) made their case in a six-page letter to Attorney General William Barr, back in March, arguing that Cohen had been less than truthful numerous times during his seven-hour testimony.
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 in their letter to Barr.
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.”
Numerous Trump insiders, including the president’s own sons, immediately contradicted Cohen’s testimony on Twitter following the exchange.
“Michael was lobbying EVERYONE to be ‘Chief of Staff,’” Eric Trump tweeted. “It was the biggest joke in the campaign and around the office.”
“It really was the biggest joke of the entire transition,” agreed Donald Trump Jr. “The beginning of his bitterness was when he realized that was never going to happen.”
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.”
Jordan and Meadows also 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.”
Cohen was caught in another possible falsehood when he said, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump,” during his prepared testimony on February 27.
However, according to longtime Clinton confidant Lanny Davis, Cohen’s current lawyer, that outreach came at Cohen’s request.
“During that time period, he directed his attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump,” Davis told the WSJ, calling the discussions the “ongoing dangling of a possible pardon.”
According to Roll Call, Davis tried to smooth that one over in a letter to Cummings in March:
In a March letter to Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, Cohen’s lawyer wrote that Cohen meant he had never asked for a pardon from Trump when he vacated his joint-defense agreement with the president in June 2018. That’s when he decided to plead guilty to charges brought against him by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Before breaking off from that agreement, Cohen’s lawyers had approached Trump’s legal team about a potential pardon, one of Cohen’s lawyers, Lanny Davis, said after Cohen’s testimony in February.
In a statement in March, Cummings appeared to accept Cohen’s clarification, saying that it is the committee’s practice to “give witnesses an opportunity to clarify their testimony.”
“I do not see the need for further action at least at this time,” Cummings said at the time. Democrats don’t see the need for action on any of the other alleged lies, either, it appears.
Cohen’s struggles to keep his story straight came after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent staffers to meet with him, at least four times for a total of 10 hours just prior to his public testimony, according to Fox News.
Jordan said it’s normal for there to be “a little bit of interaction with a witness prior to a hearing, but 10 hours, several trips to his location in New York — that is very unusual, particularly when we asked for a deposition and weren’t given that opportunity.”
The congressman pointed out that Schiff initially claimed that his staff had only met with Cohen “to alleviate any fears that he had and talked about practical concerns about when to show up and where to report.”
But according to Fox, “The sources said the sessions covered a slew of topics addressed during the public hearing before the oversight committee — including the National Enquirer’s ‘Catch and Kill’ policy, American Media CEO David Pecker and the alleged undervaluing of President Trump’s assets.”
“63 days since Michael Cohen lied multiple times to the Oversight Committee, and Democrats have done absolutely nothing about it. Enough is enough,” Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted on Wednesday following the disappointing vote.
Cohen will begin his three-year prison term next week after pleading guilty in 2018 to eight counts that included tax fraud, false statements to a bank, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress.