WASHINGTON -- Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's ex-fixer, told a House panel earlier this year that he had discussed the possibility of a "global pardon" with one of the president's attorneys, a move that Cohen said was meant to "shut this whole thing down," according to a newly released transcript.
Cohen told the House Intelligence Committee in closed testimony on Feb. 28 that he had additional discussions about possible pardons with another person he described as being close to Trump, according to a transcript released by the panel late Monday. But Cohen appeared to contradict himself on the timing of some of those discussions, raising questions about the veracity of his testimony.
At one point, Cohen said he didn't believe he discussed the possibility of a pardon with Trump attorney Jay Sekulow after FBI agents raided his home, hotel room and office in April 2018 as part of an investigation into Cohen's finances. Yet later during his Feb. 28 testimony, Cohen said his pardon discussions with Sekulow occurred "definitely after" the raid. He said later in the hearing that he didn't recall the sequence of events.
Cohen also said he had close to 20 conversations with Sekulow in advance of 2017 appearances before Congress, when Cohen falsely testified that discussions within the Trump Organization about a possible Trump tower in Moscow had ended in January 2016.
"We talked about staying on message. And the message was always was whether I was -- when I was with Mr. Trump or during these conversations, it was always about to stay on message, which is there's no Russia, there's no collusion, there's no business deals," Cohen said about his conversations with Sekulow.
Cohen later said that negotiations about the Moscow tower didn't end until June 2016, roughly five months later.
Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, said on Twitter: "Jay Sekulow is one of the very most ethical lawyers and honest men I have ever known. Michael Cohen is a serial liar. Cohen should be prosecuted for his blatant perjury before the House committee. Jay should receive the most effective and ethical lawyer of the year award."
Cohen, who earlier this month reported to federal prison to serve a three-year sentence for crimes including lying to Congress, testified at least twice before the House Intelligence Committee in February and March after pleading guilty to nine felonies last year.
Cohen spent his last few months before prison testifying to congressional panels about Trump's business practices, alleged frauds, and the ways in which Trump's associates tried to keep him quiet. Trump's allies portrayed his appearances as a last-ditch effort to reduce his sentence by spreading falsehoods.
The Intelligence Committee voted Monday along party lines to release the Cohen transcripts.