Updated 9:33 a.m. | Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer, does not want the president to pardon him after he cut a plea deal Tuesday on campaign finance, tax violations and bank fraud charges, Cohen’s attorney said Wednesday.
Cohen, who likely is headed to prison for several years after pleading guilty in a New York court, also is prepared to testify under oath — and without the protection of immunity — to any congressional committee investigating Russian election meddling or actions taken by Trump, his businesses or campaign organization.
And Cohen has information that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller likely would find interesting about whether then-candidate Trump knew about the hacking of Democratic email systems before the stolen information was made public.
All three revelations were made by Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer who also helped the Clintons during Bill Clinton’s impeachment scandal, in an interview on CNN. He also said his client wants to assist Mueller with his Russia meddling probe in any way possible.
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“The answer is definitively no,” Davis said when asked if his client will ask Trump to pardon him.
“Under no circumstances since he came to the judgement after Mr. Trump’s election as president of the United States that [Trump’s] suitability is a serious risk to our country,” Davis said. “And certainly after Helsinki, [which] creates serious questions about his loyalty to our country,” he added.
Davis was referring to Trump’s performance at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month in Finland, during with the U.S. leader repeatedly sided with Putin over Russia’s 2016 operation to upsend the American presidential race. It drew scorn from Republican and Democratic lawmakers - and the president’s onetime go-to guy to clean up sticky situations.
“The answer would be no,” Davis said, speaking for his client. “I do not want a pardon from this man.”
Cohen’s plea deal with an U.S. attorney in New York does not specifically require him to cooperate further with federal prosecutors, including Mueller. But it also does not contain language that would preclude it, and Davis made clear Cohen would talk to Mueller’s team if the former FBI director deems that helpful to his work.
The same goes for any congressional panel, which could become more apt should Democrats win control of either the House or Senate this fall.
“Yes. I believe I can say that. I haven’t specifically asked my client that question. But I’m stating my belief that the answer to that question is yes,” Davis said when asked if Cohen would testify before lawmakers.
Davis also said the Cohen camp is prepared for Trump and his team to attack him in an attempt to paint Cohen as an uncredible witness.
“When they are caught in a lie, they attack,” Davis said. “They divert attention. They lie some more so they can divert attention.”
Cohen said in a court hearing Tuesday that he “at the direction of” Trump in the summer of 2016 made payments to two women “for the purpose of influencing the election.”
The president and White House were mum on Cohen’s plea deal until Wednesday morning when Trump fired off a tweet advising his 53.9 million followers to avoid hiring his former attorney.
If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
Also on Tuesday, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was found guilty on eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud by a jury in Virginia. Manafort faces up to 80 years in prison.
Trump weighed in on Manafort as he deplaned Air Force One before campaign events in West Virginia, calling the Manafort decision “a very sad thing.” But he also tried to put distance between himself and the actions for which Manafort was convicted.
“Doesn’t involve me,” Trump told reporters. “This has nothing to do what they started out, looking for Russians involved in our campaign. There were none.”
Trump again appeared to possibly send a message to Manafort on Wednesday morning, firing off a tweet saying his that "unlike Michael Cohen" his former campaign chairman "refused to 'break' - make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a brave man!"
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” - make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
Some critics and Democratic lawmakers in the past have viewed such Trump statements as messages to his former associates that if they refuse to help Mueller, he will pardon them. But Democratic lawmakers have, since the Cohen plea and Manafort conviction, warned the president anew against floating pardons.