Michael Cohen won’t accept Trump pardon under any circumstances, and is willing to talk to special counsel, lawyer says
‘Mr Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest and he is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows’
Michael Cohen, former lawyer and fixer for US President Donald Trump, doesn’t want a presidential pardon and, rather, is hoping to open up about what he knows to investigators with the special counsel Robert Mueller, his lawyer said.
Speaking with NPR Wednesday morning, Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, said his client wasn’t interested in being pardoned.
“Under no circumstances would he accept a pardon from Mr. Trump,” Davis said, adding that the president “not only directed a crime, he is part of a cover up.”
But Davis on Wednesday hedged a suggestion he made on television Tuesday night that Cohen could tell Mueller about whether Trump was aware of and encouraged Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign before it became publicly known.
“It is my observation that what he knows will be of interest,” Davis said during a battery of television interviews. “Whether Mr Trump knew ahead of time will remain to be seen.”
Meanwhile, Cohen was subpoenaed as part of a state investigation into whether the president’s personal charitable foundation engaged in a decade-long pattern of self-dealing.
The state’s Department of Taxation and Finance confirmed the subpoena on Wednesday and said it would work with New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation in June.
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts Tuesday in a surprise hearing in New York that happened within an hour of a jury dropping a guilty verdict on eight counts in the trial against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
Cohen admitted to charges of lying about his income to evade income taxes, lying to banks to obtain loans, and making illegal contributions to benefit Trump’s campaign. The contributions to Trump’s campaign were violations of campaign finance laws and were made by arranging payoffs to silence two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
While admitting to the charges, Cohen stunned a federal courtroom in New York by declaring that he made those payments “at the direction of the candidate”, by whom he meant Trump. He also said he did so specifically to influence the outcome of the election.
Davis also started a GoFundMe page – the “Michael Cohen Truth Fund” – to raise money for Cohen, his family and legal fees. As of about Wednesday afternoon, the fund had raised more than US$120,000 of a US$500,000 goal.
“Michael decided to put his family and his country first. Now Michael needs your financial help – to pay his legal fees,” the page’s description reads, adding all the donations would go toward “his journey to tell the truth about Donald Trump.”
Davis appeared on MSNBC and CNN to say Cohen was dedicated to telling the truth and interested in speaking with Mueller and his team of investigators.
“Mr Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest and he is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows,” Davis said on MSNBC, adding he could tell investigators “not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democratic system,” but also about his “knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time.”
Davis was referring to the emails hacked from the Democratic National Convention and of top Hillary Clinton aides during the 2016 election.
Davis noted that Trump publicly “cheered” on the hacks but alluded to private conversations that Cohen may have been privileged to.
Additional reporting by Associated Press