Dem chairman satisfied, for now, with Cohen answer on pardon

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testifies before the House Oversight Committee, Photo Date: 2/27/2019 / (MGN)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee says he does "not see the need for further action" against Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen after he clarified his testimony under oath about never seeking a pardon from Trump.

In a letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings, lawyer Michael Monico clarified that Cohen had asked one of his lawyers to explore the possibility of a pardon before he left a joint-defense agreement with Trump last June.

Cohen's Feb. 27 declaration before Cummings' committee that "I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump" set off a firestorm. Congressional investigators promised to look into the claim, and Trump called him a liar on Twitter.

The statement Cohen made "could have been clearer regarding the time frames," Monico wrote in the letter obtained by The Associated Press. Still, Monico said Cohen's testimony was true and he stands by his statement.

Cummings said in a statement Wednesday that "I do not see the need for further action — at least at this time." He said he understands that Cohen may have answered more detailed questions on the topic in separate, closed-door testimony before the House intelligence committee the next day.

"We will review that transcript when it becomes available and determine whether any additional steps are required," Cummings said.

Another Cohen lawyer, Lanny Davis, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani went back and forth in dueling interviews and tweets last week over the pardon issue. Trump weighed in on Friday, tweeting that Cohen had personally asked him for a pardon. Cohen denied that minutes later in a tweet of his own.

Monico reiterated that denial in his letter to Cummings, saying Cohen never asked Trump for a pardon and that Trump never offered one. He said Cohen had asked a prior lawyer to inquire about a possible pardon because Trump had "publicly dangled the possibility of pardons when commenting about ongoing investigations."

"With that in mind, as a past member of the joint defense team, Mr. Cohen asked his then attorney to discuss with another Trump attorney possible pardon options consistent with the President's prior public declarations," Monico said. Nothing ever came of that effort, he said.

Cohen is slated to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.


Associated Press writer Michael Sisak contributed to this report from New York.

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