Attorneys representing President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen had at least one meeting with Trump’s own legal team, where they inquired about the possibility of arranging a pardon for Cohen, according to a report by The Independent. The report is alleging that Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, spoke with members of Trump’s legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow, and Joanna Hendon. Furthermore, the topics and circumstances of those conversations are now subject to congressional investigation.
The report came out shortly after a sweeping inquiry was announced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in which he will seek documents from 81 close associates of Trump, including two of his children, officials with his family business the Trump Organization, and various figures in the administration.
The new report alleges that Cohen’s lawyer indicated to Trump’s legal team that if his client weren’t granted a presidential pardon, he might be willing to cooperate with investigators. Although the report alleges Ryan asked on behalf of his client, there is no clear indication that Cohen was aware of the gambit. In fact, during his testimony before the judiciary committee last week, Cohen said as much under oath.
“I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump,” he testified.
The conversations between the attorneys are alleged to have taken place shortly after Cohen’s offices and house were raided by the FBI, during which agents seized documents and tapes. The judiciary committee has also indicated that they are seeking documents related to possible pardon requests for Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
Lanny Davis, who is serving as Cohen’s lawyer currently, has rejected the idea that a presidential pardon was ever a topic of serious conversation. Trump’s legal team has also said they were never seriously considering the idea, with the sole holdout of Rudy Giuliani who reportedly left the door open to the possibility of a pardon.
On Tuesday however, Trump ramped up his diatribes against the committee’s probe, saying House Democrats “want to play games,” and appearing to signal that the White House may seek a legal avenue to not comply with the committee’s requests, for instance by invoking executive privilege.
“The Dems are obstructing justice and will not get anything done. A big, fat, fishing expedition desperately in search of a crime, when in fact the real crime is what the Dems are doing, and have done,” Trump tweeted.
For his part, Rep. Nadler has made it clear that he sees it as an obligation of his office to pursue the inquiry wherever it leads.
“Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House judiciary committee,” he said.