President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was referred to the Justice Department on Thursday by the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee for allegedly committing perjury during his sworn testimony. Attorney General William Barr received a letter from committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina that accused Cohen of making “what appeared to be numerous willfully and intentionally false statements of material fact.”
Jordan and Meadows argued that some of Cohen’s statements were contradictory to the record that was established during his prosecution, which found him guilty of lying to Congress, tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and bank fraud. According to the letter, Cohen had said “I never defrauded any bank,” in his testimony on Wednesday, when in fact, he pleaded guilty to bank fraud in August 2018.
Cohen also claimed that he never attempted to obtain a position in the White House under Donald Trump, but statements and court filings from other people involved in the situation directly negate what Cohen had to say. The congressmen directed attention to tweets that were written by Trump associates, including Dr. Darrell Scott who wrote “Michael Cohen asked … no, BEGGED me REPEATEDLY, to ask the POTUS to give him a job in the Administration! He’s STILL lying under oath!” during the House Oversight hearing on Wednesday. According to court filings, when a position in the White House wasn’t presented to Cohen he “found a way to monetize his relationship with and access to the president.”
Jordan and Meadows also pointed out that Cohen’s verbal testimony contradicted what he had provided in the written statement that he submitted to the committee prior to testifying in front of them. They provided the courts with the example of Cohen verbally testifying that he was “a good lawyer” who understood that he needed to give his client the best legal advice that he could, but he made a payment to Stephanie Clifford, also known as the adult film star Stormy Daniels, “without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do.”
Cohen also stated that he had committed criminal acts for Trump out of “blind loyalty” and that their relationship caused him to lose everything he had. Federal prosecutors believe that Cohen’s motivation had nothing to do with loyalty to Trump. They believe that Cohen’s motivation was driven by ambition and greed.
While Jordan was questioning Cohen, he argued that the entire hearing was “choreographed” by Lanny Davis, the former attorney of Bill and Hillary Clinton. “That’s right, Lanny Davis choreographed the whole darn thing. The Clintons’ best friend, loyalist operative, Lanny Davis put this all together,” said Jordan. “This might be the first time someone convicted of lying to Congress has appeared again so quickly in front of Congress. Certainly, it’s the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back as a star witness in a hearing,” Jordan continued.
“Here’s the point, the chairman just gave you a 30-minute opening statement and you have a history of lying over and over and over again and frankly don’t take my word for it, take what the court said. ‘Cohen did crimes marked by a pattern of deception and that permeated his professional life,’” Jordan said.
“Here’s what I see, I see a guy who worked for 10 years in here trashing the guy he worked for … didn’t get a job in the White House and now you’re behaving just like everyone else who has got fired or didn’t get the job they wanted … same kind of selfish motivation after you don’t get the things you want,” said Jordan.
Cohen also told Congress that he and his team had spoken to top Congressional Democrats before he gave his testimony to the House Oversight and the Reform Committee. He explained that he spoke with Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California. During the hearing, Cumming empathized with Cohen for being called a “rat” by President Donald Trump. “When you call somebody a rat that’s one of the worst things you can call them because when they go to prison that means a snitch. I’m just saying. And so the President called you a rat. We’re better than that, we really are,” said Cummings.
While he was on the stand, Cohen continuously spoke badly about the president. “You don’t shut down the government before Christmas and New Years just to appease your base. This behavior is churlish, it denigrates the office of the president and it simply is un-American. And it’s not you. So to those that support the President and his rhetoric as I once did, I pray the country doesn’t make the same mistakes that I have made or pay the heavy price that my family and I are paying,” said Cohen.
He also stated that while he was working for Trump he was submitted to an endless cycle of lies. “Every day most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something and that became the norm and that’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country and what’s happening here in the government,” he said.