Republicans can add one more lie to the list of lies told by Michael Cohen to Congress earlier this year.
Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in February and March to testify about his work on the Trump Tower Moscow project and to explain how he prepared for his congressional testimony in 2017.
Transcripts from the closed-door interviews were released by the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.
Democrats were particularly interested in Cohen’s claim that lawyers for President Trump and his family were behind his false testimony to Congress in 2017 about how long negotiations for the project extended into the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen was asked in March about what was going on with the project during the key period between January and May of 2016.
He told the lawmakers: “I was waiting for Mr. Sater to get me the information I needed. A lot of conversation back and forth… to keeping the project alive.”
When asked if there was “anything particularly noteworthy” about his conversations with Trump during that period, Cohen replied: “No, they were quick conversations that I’d be, whether in his office or walking with him to the elevator or down to a vehicle because he was leaving for a rally. He would ask me, ‘so what’s happening with Russia?’ and I would tell him, ‘I’m still waiting for the documentation.'”
To spice things up a bit, Cohen added a detail that was meant to put Trump in a bad light, but actually makes him look like he was struggling to keep his story straight. He told the committee that during that time period between January and May of 2016, Trump was holding rallies and going “out in front of the rally talking about a witch hunt and that there’s no Russia, there’s no collusion.”
During that time period, there was not yet an (official) FBI counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and no Mueller investigation. Obviously, Trump would not have been referring to a “witch hunt,” over a year before the Mueller investigation even started.
Yet, Cohen told lawmakers that Trump’s rally comments in early 2016 were stuck in his head and “noteworthy.”
Kudos to left-wing journalist Aaron Maté for spotting the lie:
5a/ Now here is where Cohen appears to be lying in order to peddle a narrative that he lied to help Trump. He’s asked about Jan-May 2016 & acknowledges there’s nothing noteworthy about his convos w/ Trump. But then he says what does “stick out” is what Trump would say in public: pic.twitter.com/6PfsT4vQc8
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 21, 2019
5b/ But here’s the problem w/ Cohen’s narrative: during the period of January-May 2016 that he’s talking about, Trump was never “out in front of the rally talking about witch hunt and that there’s no Russia, there’s no collusion” — because that wasn’t a public issue yet!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/11QqLiqB7j
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 21, 2019
Republicans have cited many other instances where they say Trump’s former “fixer” seems to have committed perjury.
Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and 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 before the House Oversight Committee in February.
Democrats and their pals in the media are focusing on Cohen’s allegation that the president’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, was behind Cohen’s false claim to Congress that the Trump Tower Moscow project ended in January 2016:
According to the transcript, Cohen told the committee he was directed to lie by Sekulow on the topic of the Trump Tower Moscow project.
“To be perfectly clear about this, the statement about the Trump Tower negotiations ending in January that was part of your original draft was false, and Mr. Sekulow knew that it was false?” California Democrat Adam Schiff asked Cohen, according to the transcript.
“Yes, sir,” Cohen replied, according to the transcript.
But given his track record, why should anything he said be believed?
Sekulow’s attorneys dismissed the allegation, pointing out in a statement Monday that Cohen has a strong instinct to “blame others.”
“Michael Cohen’s alleged statements are more of the same from him and confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Cohen’s ‘instinct to blame others is strong,'” attorneys Jane Serene Raskin and Patrick Strawbridge said in the statement.
“That this or any Committee would rely on the word of Michael Cohen for any purpose — much less to try and pierce the attorney-client privilege and discover confidential communications of four respected lawyers — defies logic, well-established law and common sense.”
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani also came to Sekulow’s defense, tweeting that his colleague is “one of the very most ethical lawyers and honest men I have ever known.”
Jay Sekulow is one of the very most ethical lawyers and honest men I have ever known. Michael Cohen is a serial liar. Cohen should be prosecuted for his blatant perjury before the House committee. Jay should receive the most effective and ethical lawyer of the year award.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) May 20, 2019