President Trump called Michael Cohen to the White House in May 2017 to go over his former fixer’s upcoming testimony before Congress, Cohen testified to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
This previously undisclosed meeting between Cohen, Trump and Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow bolsters Cohen’s claims that the President tried to pressure him into lying to Congress about the Trump Organization’s business deals in Russia.
Cohen also testified that Sekulow changed parts of the testimony Cohen prepared to present to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
The White House meeting was revealed after Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) mentioned a May 16 email from a special assistant to the president to a deputy White House attorney questioning why the President had “requested a meeting” with Sekulow and Cohen.
Cohen said that the trio met to discuss “document production as well as my appearance before” the two congressional intelligence committees in the summer of 2017.
Cohen pleaded guilty in November 2018 to lying to Congress during those closed-door hearings.
“So you had a conversation with the President of the United States about your impending testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, is that correct?” Connolly asked.
“That’s correct,” Cohen replied.
“What was the nature of that conversation?” Connolly questioned.
“He wanted me to cooperate,” Cohen said.
Cohen said in his prepared remarks that Trump did not explicitly tell him to make any particular claim, but that the implication of what the President wanted was clear.
“He doesn’t tell you what he wants,” Cohen said. “What he does is, again, ‘Michael, there’s no Russia. There’s no collusion. There’s no involvement. There’s no interference.’ I know what he means because I’ve been around him for so long. So if you’re asking me whether or not that’s the message, that’s staying on point and that’s the party line that he created that so many others are now touting. Yes, that’s the message that he wanted to reinforce.”
During later rounds of questioning, Cohen was asked about his assertion that he knew the President wanted him to lie was because Trump’s attorneys altered his remarks to Congress to make them less damaging.
“Which specific lawyers reviewed and edited your statement to congress on the Moscow tower negotiations and did they make any changes to your statement?” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asked.
“There were changes made, additions,” Cohen replied. “Jay Sekulow, for one.”
Cohen added that the main alteration involved “the length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive.”
Abbe Lowell, attorney for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, also reviewed the testimony, Cohen said, citing their joint defense agreement.
“It was pursuant to the joint defense agreement that we were all operating under,” Cohen said.