House Republicans are sniping at their counterparts across the aisle, claiming that Democrats improperly coached Michael Cohen in anticipation of his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. According to a report in The Hill, as investigations continue into the machinations of President Donald Trump’s administration and 2016 campaign, as well as the business practices of the Trump organization, allies of the president are scaling up their defense of him.
Some Republican lawmakers have gone so far as to suggest that House Democrats actually knew what Cohen’s testimony would be in advance and that they even may have coached him on what to say and how to say it. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman and California Democrat Adam Schiff of meeting with Cohen ahead of his scheduled testimony for an inordinate amount of time, implying that tampering with, or coaching of Cohen’s testimony took place.
“Before Michael Cohen’s testimony last week, he and Adam Schiff met for TEN hours,” Rep. Meadows tweeted, and which Trump later retweeted. “But last Sunday, Schiff told CBS his only contact with Cohen was to ‘invite him to testify’ and ‘allay concerns.’ Really? That took 10 hours?
“Did Democrats lead the witness?” he added.
Rep. Schiff was quick to fire back, noting first of all that such meetings with congressional staff prior to testimony are part of standard operating procedure, and also pointing out that in Cohen’s case, he was not even present at any such meeting.
Sorry, Mr. Trump and Mr. Meadows. I was not part of any of the staff proffer sessions with Mr. Cohen.
You really should be more careful about making or propagating false statements if you wish to condemn Cohen and others.
I’m sure it was unintentional…. pic.twitter.com/DS2wote6Ri
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 9, 2019
However, Meadows didn’t stop there. He pivoted to accusing “Schiff’s team” of coaching Cohen for over 10 hours and doubled down on the Republican claim that all of Cohen’s testimony should be considered invalid since he has already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.
“You would think after prepping with Adam Schiff’s team for 10+ hours, Mr. Cohen could make it through a hearing without lying to Congress… again. Apparently not.”
While it has been confirmed that Cohen did meet with staffers for Rep. Schiff for around ten hours over the course of four different meetings before he testified, sources told The Daily Beast that Cohen was given the opportunity to re-read his prior testimony from 2017 during those meetings.
Other Democrats who are on the House Intelligence Committee were quick to jump to Rep. Schiff’s defense.
“Now THIS is a false statement. They never met before. Rep. Mark Meadows should delete this tweet & apologize,” tweeted California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell. Additionally, Rep. Jim Hines of Connecticut tweeted that he was “in the room” and that Schiff did not meet with Cohen. He went on to also suggest that the only right thing for Meadows to do would be to delete his false tweet.
One former Republican House member, Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, said that such pre-hearing interviews are common practice, and have been common for the past 30 years or more, no matter which party is in control of the House.