Publicly, Michael Cohen says he has never asked for a pardon from Donald Trump.
And who knows, maybe he’s telling the truth. But what the Wall Street Journal knows, according an article published on Monday evening anyway, is that Cohen lawyer Stephen Ryan “raised the possibility of a pardon with attorneys for the president and his company” following the raid on Cohen’s properties last year.
Lawyers involved in the discussions on Trump’s side included Jay Sekulow, Joanna Hendon and, of course, the animate remains of Rudy Giuliani.
All three of those folks “dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time”, the Journal says, but Rudy apparently “left open the possibility that the president could grant Cohen one in the future.”
Ryan, according to the Journal, suggested Cohen might consider cooperating with prosecutors if Trump didn’t step in to save the day.
Here’s one of the reporters on the story speaking to MSNBC (we’re not sure Rothfeld actually adds much in this chat, but just in case, we’ll include it):
While it’s not clear if Cohen actually knew about these conversations, it seems likely he did and as you’re probably aware, he was among the 81 people who received document requests from The House Judiciary Chairman on Monday.
Among the documents requested from Cohen, anything related to “possible pardons for Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, or yourself.”
Last week, during closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill, lawmakers badgered Cohen about possible pardon discussions. According to sources who spoke to the Washington Post, congress is highly interested in “any discussions about possible pardons which they view as a potentially ripe area of inquiry into whether anyone sought to obstruct justice.”
As the Post goes on to write, “it was not immediately clear what, if anything, Cohen told lawmakers to spark their interest [but] depending on the details, such pardon talks could be incendiary, suggesting an effort to dissuade Cohen from cooperating with law enforcement.”
Cohen will return to Capitol Hill for yet another chat with the House Intelligence Committee this week.
Some Republicans – and also the White House – would like to see Cohen investigated for perjury in light of his testimony. Frankly, that effort reeks of desperation.
In any case, this is is yet another line of inquiry when it comes to the obstruction probe into the president. Conceivably, Trump could argue that a decision not to pardon Cohen is indicative of his not having attempted to interfere with the investigation.
But then again, you have to think he (Trump) was advised against promising pardons too quickly. Remember, he initially praised Cohen and decried the FBI raid, so it’s possible Cohen was flipped so quickly that Trump didn’t have a chance to consider the pardon before it was too late.