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Cummings: No action against Cohen for pardon statement

The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), announced Wednesday that his panel wouldn’t take any action against Michael Cohen after his attorney contradicted his testimony that he never asked President Donald Trump for a pardon.

Cummings said in a statement that Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, clarified his testimony in which he said, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.”

“Our practice on this Committee is to give witnesses an opportunity to clarify their testimony, and that is what Mr. Cohen has done,” Cummings said. “I do not see the need for further action — at least at this time.”

Cohen testified in an open hearing to Congress earlier this month, in addition to several closed-door hearings with lawmakers.

Republicans, including Trump, have tried to discredit Cohen’s testimony, in which he implicated Trump in various crimes. Some Republicans have pointed to the fact that Cohen has already lied to Congress. The oversight panel’s top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, also sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department detailing allegations of lies by Cohen.

Cohen has been sentenced to three-years in prison sentence for crimes including lying to Congress, tax fraud and campaign-finance violations.

Cummings’ statement comes after Cohen’s attorneys sent a letter to Cummings on Tuesday saying that the sentence in question referred to the period after Cohen left the Trump Joint Defense Agreement in June 2018.

The attorneys say in the letter that “President Trump publicly dangled the possibility of pardons when commenting about ongoing investigations” to his joint defense team. Cohen asked his then-attorney to discuss possible pardon options with Trump’s attorney for himself at the time he was still on the joint defense team, the letter said.

“At no time did Mr. Cohen personally ask President Trump for a pardon or did the President offer Mr. Cohen the same,” the letter continued. “In retrospect the above sentence in his testimony could have been clearer and more complete regarding the distinction between the pre-JDA and post-JDA time periods.”

Cohen‘s current attorney, Lanny Davis, on Wednesday also said that the letter to Cummings addressed the issue raised by Jordan, adding that his client‘s testimony was truthful.

Davis went on to question why Jordan and other Republicans had not addressed the hush money payments made to the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels that Cohen says Trump told him to make.

“Isn’t it interesting that neither Mr. Jordan nor any Republican on the committee has ever mentioned the hush money checks signed by President Trump, proving that the president committed a felony as part of the Stormy Daniels illegal hush money scheme?“ Davis said. “Federal prosecutors have stated that scheme was directed and coordinated by President Trump. Why does Mr. Jordan ignore this?”

Cummings said that he would continue to review transcripts of Cohen’s closed-door testimony to determine whether any additional steps must be made.

“I understand that Mr. Cohen may have answered more detailed questions on this same topic the day after our hearing when the Intelligence Committee had him in for a closed session,” he said in his statement. “We will review that transcript when it becomes available and determine whether any additional steps are required.”

Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this report.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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