- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2019

Michael Cohen told Congress that he raised the possibility of President Trump issuing a “pre-pardon” to protect himself and other people who were in danger of being snared in the Russia probe.

Cohen, in transcripts of testimony to the House intelligence committee released Monday evening, said he was the one to raise the possibility with Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump.

“I had said to him, you know, what .. well, you know, there’s always the possibility of a pre-pardon,” Cohen told the committee.

The idea was ultimately rejected, but Cohen’s admission contradicts his vehement testimony to the House Oversight Committee in public a day earlier, when he insisted he’d never asked for a pardon.

Cohen, in the transcripts of his two intelligence committee interviews on Feb. 28 and March 6, also admitted the president never raised the issue of pardons with him, and in fact told him to cooperate with the probes into Russia’s behavior during the 2016 election.

Cohen, though, said he interpreted the president’s direction to cooperate as an order to obstruct.

He also said he understood the president to have reviewed his prepared — but false — testimony concerning the Trump Moscow project.

“Mr. Sekulow told you that the president had read your written testimony, false written testimony, before you provided it to Congress?” the committee’s chairman asked.

“Yes, that he — Mr. Sekulow said that he spoke to the client and that, you know, the client likes it and that it’s good,” Cohen said, noting the client was the president.

Cohen said Mr. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow instructed him to say in his testimony the negotiations surrounding the Moscow project ended in January of 2016, ahead of the Iowa caucus in February. In reality the deal was being negotiated through June, a fact Cohen said Mr. Trump and his team knew.

The president’s former “fixer” also told lawmakers he doubts Mr. Trump will pardon Roger Stone or Paul Manafort, two Trump-allies that were charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“He’ll let them rot in jail forever. He just doesn’t care,” Cohen said.

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