President Trump fired a warning shot at his former attorney, Michael Cohen, before a public hearing next week and two private appearances before Intelligence Committee lawmakers.
Trump mentioned attorney-client privilege and said: ‘He’s taking his own chances.’
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday morning that it’s Cohen who ought to be worried about his congressional testimony, not the president, as she was asked about the public hearing that will take place with Trump is abroad.
Sanders told Fox News on Friday that President Trump is ‘very confident’ in what occurred into the lead-up to the 2016 election and is ‘not concerned’ about what his former fixer could tell lawmakers.
‘I don’t think the president has any concerns whatsoever about Michael Cohen. I think Michael Cohen may need to be concerned for himself. But that’s certainly something that’s not influencing or bothering us in this building,’ she said.
Michael Cohen will testify three times next week: once at a public hearing in the House and twice behind closed doors
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says it’s Michael Cohen, an ex-attorney for Donald Trump, who ought to be worried about his congressional testimony, not the president
Sanders said President Trump is ‘very confident’ in what occurred into the lead-up to the 2016 election and is ‘not concerned’ about what his former fixer could tell lawmakers
Cohen should be especially concerned about the prospect of breaking attorney client privilege in his testimony, Sanders asserted.
‘That’s a problem that he’s going to have to deal with,’ she acknowledged. ‘I’m not an attorney so I’m not going to try to get into what that looks like. What I can tell you is the president’s very confident in what he has and hasn’t done, and he’s not concerned about Michael Cohen.’
The former lawyer to President
Top ranking Republicans on Oversight criticized committee chairman Elijah Cummings on Thursday for giving Cohen, an admitted liar, a public forum to air his grievances against his former employer.
‘Cohen is a convicted criminal who has admitted to crimes of deception and lies for his personal greed and ambition. Our Members have a number of questions they intend to pose Cohen; however, Chairman Elijah Cummings has refused to request material necessary to prepare for Cohen’s anticipated testimony,’ Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows wrote.
They asked Cummings to request additional information and documentation on ‘the strategic consulting, lobbying, and foreign agent work he sought to undertake after he was denied a staff position in President Trump’s White House’ in the letter.
Republican lawmakers are especially interested in lobbying work that Cohen did around the time of President Trump’s inauguration. Cohen made millions off of insight he provided to companies looking for a leg up in the Trump administration.
‘Despite collecting a handsome windfall, Cohen apparently performed little to no work,’ Jordan and Meadows said. ‘Instead, it appears that Cohen leveraged his association with President Trump to attract and retain major corporate clients, produced no tangible results, and still walked away with millions of dollars.’
The legislators took the information from the documents that the Southern District of New York put together against Cohen.
He’s set to go to prison on May 6, having pleaded guilty last year to nine separate federal crimes. The 52-year-old New Yorker received a a two-month reprieve on Wednesday from a judge who agreed to delay a March deadline for his to report to prison.
Cohen needs the time to recover from shoulder surgery and to prepare for his upcoming congressional testimony, his attorney Michael Monico wrote to the judge.
He ‘underwent a serious surgical procedure and he needs to undergo intensive post-surgical physical therapy and be monitored by his physician for recovery,’ the letter stated.
Judge William Pauley granted Cohen’s request for a 60 day delay
Additionally, his attorney notes Cohen ‘anticipates being called to testify before three (3) Congressional committees at the end of the month. Doing so will require Mr. Cohen to spend substantial time in preparation that will limit the time he has to get his affairs in order and spend time with his family.’
The letter to the judge noted the Southern District of New York, which led the prosecution against Cohen, did not object to the request.
Judge William Pauley granted Cohen a 60-day delay.
Cohen’s attorneys thanked the court in a statement after the ruling.
‘We thank the court for granting the postponement of Mr. Cohen’s surrender date to May 6. As we have previously stated, Mr. Cohen underwent serious shoulder surgery and this extra time allows Mr. Cohen to continue his physical therapy. In addition, he will be able to prepare for the expected testimony next week before the Congressional Committees, which he welcomes,’ Monico, Barry Spevack and Lanny Davis said in a joint statement.
Cohen received a three-year sentence from Pauley in December for bank and tax fraud, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws.
He was supposed to report to prison on March 6.
Cohen also had pledged to talk to the House and Senate intelligence committees in private and to the House Oversight and Reform Committee in public before he was supposed to report to prison.
He has delayed his scheduled appearances before those three committees three times for various reasons.
Cohen was initially scheduled to testify before the House Oversight panel on February 7, but that was canceled and a new date has not been announced.
He was supposed to testify behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee on February 8 but that was rescheduled for February 28.
He was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 12 but that was postponed for ‘post surgery medical needs’ – Cohen had shoulder surgery last month – and has not be rescheduled.
Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said Tuesday that Cohen can’t talk to lawmakers about what he told Robert Mueller for the special counsel’s
‘I believe the issue in 2020 which Michael Cohen can speak to better than anyone is the man lacks character,’ Davis told
But Davis said Cohen will be able to talk about ‘what did you do for Mr. Trump for all those years and why.’
Trump’s legal team has already made their case against Cohen by painting him as an unreliable witness.
Both Trump’s lawyers and the president himself have pushed back against any comments Cohen may have made to Mueller or will make in public by labeling him as a rat and turn coat who can’t be believed.
Davis conceded that Cohen knows he has a ‘deep hole to climb out’ of in terms of credibility.
But he argued his client has seen the light and wants to make amends for his past work for the president.
‘He wouldn’t take a pardon if Trump pleaded with him to take it. Why? Because it would be dirty,’ Davis told ABC News.
He also slammed the president for calling Cohen a rat on Twitter, saying that is ‘reckless and dangerous’ because it could put Cohen’s life in danger in prison.
Trump ‘calls him a rat, which is a label that in prison that can be a dangerous label,’ Davis said.
Michael Cohen seen with his arm in a sling. A judge said he could have two more months to report to prison while he recovers from surgery
Cohen has been cooperating with the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and has given Mueller’s team 70 hours worth of interviews. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was the lead federal prosecutor earlier this year when Cohen pled guilty to eight counts, including tax fraud and campaign finance violations – that stemmed from the special counsel’s investigation.
Cohen also has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline of conversations he had with Russian officials about building a Trump Tower Moscow as part of separate investigation by Mueller’s team.
He was sentenced to three years in prison and is free on bail until that time.
Cohen’s guilty pleas included a charge of lying to Congress about a Trump Organization real estate project that was slated for Moscow, Russia and discussed through the fall of 2016 while the president was running for office.
He testified in a closed congressional interview that the project he pursued on Trump’s behalf was abandoned by the time of the Iowa Caucuses in January 2016; that would be consistent with Trump’s ‘political messaging.’
Mueller later filed documents revealing Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president’s family, later in the year – even after Trump became the Republican nominee for president.
Cohen said he lied out of loyalty to Trump.
Cohen also played a role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels (left) and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal (right)
‘I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1,’ Cohen said at his plea hearing late last year.
‘Individual 1’ is Mueller’s name for Trump in the investigation.
Cohen was also the central figure in a plot to buy the silence of pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen, a transaction that he admitted was a violation of campaign finance laws since it amounted to an illegally large contribution benefiting Trump’s White House hopes.
He said in court that Trump directed him to make the payment, suggesting the president was guilty of a crime.
In August he pleaded guilty to eight separate charges related to tax dodges, falsifying bank documents and the campaign finance violations involving Daniels and another woman, former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal.
Cohen claims that at Trump’s request, he arranged for the publisher of The National Enquirer to pay McDougal – another self-described past Trump paramour – for the exclusive rights to her life story. The magazine never published anything, engaging in a practice known as ‘catch and kill’ in order to help Trump avoid new scandals in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.
Trump has denied ever having a sexual relationship with either Daniels or McDougal.