After Michael Cohen’s mind-melting testimony to Congress last week, the former Trump lawyer met with Congress again in closed door sessions. In those sessions, the issue of discussions Cohen may have previously had with President Trump about a potential pardon reportedly came up.
Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that a lawyer for Cohen did indeed discuss a pardon with Trump’s lawyers.
According to the paper’s sources, Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan discussed the possibility of a pardon with Trump’s lawyers sometime after the FBI raided Cohen’s office last April in connection with Trump’s payments to Stormy Daniels.
From the Journal:
The president’s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time, these people said. But at least one of them, Mr. Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Mr. Cohen one in the future, they said.
Mr. Ryan left the impression that if Mr. Cohen couldn’t rely on a pardon, he might cooperate with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office investigating Mr. Cohen, the people said.
In his testimony to Congress, Cohen said he had “never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.”
This new information doesn’t directly contradict that statement. There’s nothing to suggest that Cohen himself asked for a pardon or that he knew of Ryan’s discussion on the subject.
“Mr. Cohen stands by his testimony before the House Oversight Committee,” a spokeswoman for Cohen told the Journal.
Giuliani told the Journal that his answer on the possibility of presidential pardons has remained consistent.
“I always give the same answer which is, ‘The president is not going to consider any pardons at this time and nobody should think that he is,’” Giuliani told the Journal. He said he also tells lawyers, “Whatever happens in the future, that is [Trump’s] prerogative.”
If Trump’s team offered Cohen a pardon as incentive to not cooperate with authorities, it would be a clear-cut example of obstruction of justice.