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Republican House Reps Are Going After Michael Cohen for Perjury After His Public Testimony, Because of Course They Are


Republican House Reps Are Going After Michael Cohen for Perjury After His Public Testimony, Because of Course They Are
Michael Cohen (left) and Jim Jordan (right). MSNBC/

Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee have referred President Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen to the Justice Department for alleged perjury.

Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (OH) and Mark Meadows (N.C.) claimed Cohen lied during sworn testimony. They outlined their reasoning in a letter to newly sworn-in Attorney General William Barr:

“We write to refer significant evidence that Michael D. Cohen committed perjury and knowingly made false statements during his testimony before an Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. While testifying under oath, Mr. Cohen made what appear to be numerous willfully and intentionally false statements of material fact contradicted by the record established by the Justice Department in United States v. Cohen.

Mr. Cohen’s testimony before the Committee at times was in direct contradiction to assertions contained in pleadings authored by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY.) There are other instances in which Mr. Cohen’s statements to the Committee were immediately contradicted by witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the subject matter.”

Jordan and Meadows claim Cohen gave false statements regarding his desire to work in the White House and to take a role within the Trump administration, among other things:

  • “Mr. Cohen repeatedly testified that he did not seek employment in the White House following President Trump’s election,” they wrote. “This is demonstrably, materially, and intentionally false.” (They cited a tweet by former New York City Police detective Bo Dietl, who said Cohen "told me several times that he was very angry and upset" that he did not get an offer to work in the White House.)

  • The lawmakers say Cohen lied when he testified, "I never defrauded any bank." They pointed to Cohen's plea agreement with federal prosecutors in New York, which describes one of his crimes as "bank fraud."
  • They say Cohen lied about whether he directed the "commission" of the "Women for Cohen" Twitter account that was created during the 2016 presidential campaign.
  • They say a form Cohen submitted to the committee before his public hearing, in which he claims to have no "reportable contracts with foreign government entities" is false.
  • Jordan and Meadows say Cohen contradicted one of his own written statements when he said he was a "good lawyer who understood the need to present his client with sound legal advice."
  • They claim Cohen lied when he said he did not commit crimes out of "blind loyalty" to the president.
  • They claim Cohen gave false testimony about whether Trump directed him and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Wiesselberg to "go back to his office and figure out how" to make a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump years before he launched his presidential campaign.

Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis, responded to the lawmakers' claims in a statement, calling the criminal referral a "baseless" one:

Mr. Cohen testified truthfully before the House Oversight Committee. He took full responsibility for his guilty pleas. He also backed up much of his testimony with documents. It may not be surprising that two pro-Trump Committee members known [sic] have a baseless criminal referral. In my opinion, it is a sad misuse of the criminal justice system with the aura of pure partisanship.

Jordan and Meadows have also been criticized for executing what many believe is simply a partisan exercise.

But the letter the two legislators submitted to Attorney General Barr indicates they're eager to move forward despite the heavy criticisms.

They said Cohen's testimony "was a spectacular and brazen attempt to knowing and willfully testify falsely and fictitiously to numerous material facts" that contained "intentionally false statements designed to make himself look better on a national stage."

"Mr. Cohen's prior conviction for lying to Congress merits a heightened suspicion that he has yet again testified falsely before Congress," they wrote.

Jordan and Cohen butted heads for a brief moment yesterday during the hearing that captivated the nation. Jordan, when not accusing Cohen of remorselessness, suggested, as he does in his letter to the attorney general, that Cohen was trying to save face.

"You didn't get brought to the dance," Jordan told Cohen about his lack of an offer to work in White House. Cohen disagreed vehemently.

"Sir, I was extremely proud to be personal attorney to the President of the United States of America," he replied. "I did not want to go to the White House."

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) says he believes Cohen's claim that he didn't want to work in the White House.

“I don’t have any knowledge of that. He said he wasn’t (lobbying for a job) and I believe him,” Cummings said. “I mean, think about it. He could make a helluva lot more money, a helluva lot more money, outside the White House than in the White House. I mean, I don’t know why you would want to do that.”

Representative Jamie Raskin, Cummings' fellow Maryland Democrat, said Jordan and Meadows' claims are an "irrelevant distraction" and "everything (Cohen) said was perfectly internally consistent and coherent."