Michael Cohen reportedly told investigators that he was directed to lie by Donald Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow about the timeline of the Russia meetings that took place in Trump Tower. According to the transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee’s recent interviews with Cohen, he says that he was told to give false information about when the talks around building a Trump Tower in Moscow ended to make it appear as though they completed earlier than they did.
The Hill reports that Cohen was interviewed on February 28 and March 6 behind closed doors to determine what he knew about the president and his associates’ conversations with Russian and other foreign entities. The former lawyer and “fixer” for Trump told congressional investigators that he and Sekulow discussed making a false statement to Congress in order to make it appear as though the talks regarding a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016. Cohen says that they actually extended well into June 2016.
Cohen testified in February that he believes Sekulow knew that the discussions went into June, but wanted to make it appear as though they had ended sooner. In March, Cohen clarified that it was Sekulow who suggested the January date.
“To the best of my recollection it was Jay Sekulow,” Cohen told the congressional committee.
The lawyer also claimed that he had several conversations with Sekulow about getting a presidential pardon both before and after he spoke in front of Congress in August 2017. Cohen says that he and Sekulow also discussed doing “pre-pardons” for all of the people involved in the investigation as a way to “shut this whole thing down,” referring to the investigation.
Eventually, they decided not to go down that path.
New from WaPo: Michael Cohen told a House panel during closed-door hearings that he'd been instructed by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow to falsely claim in a 2017 statement to Congress that negotiations to build Trump Tower Moscow ended in January 2016.https://t.co/MbyuppmTvu— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 20, 2019
Cohen also claimed that Trump indirectly told him to lie using a “code” message, something that the president has been accused of doing repeatedly.
“The message that he would constantly relay had to do with it’s all – it’s not – this investigation is not going anywhere, just – there’s no Russia. I mean, I don’t know how many times he said to me: ‘There’s just no Russia. This whole thing is a giant witch hunt. It’s a witch hunt,'” Cohen said.
Cohen, who was convicted of bank fraud, campaign finance violations, and other charges, is serving three years behind bars for his crimes. Trump and his associates have repeatedly attacked Cohen’s credibility, saying that because he lied to Congress, his word on anything is suspect.