Remember when Michael Cohen told the House Oversight Committee last week that he had "never asked for a pardon" from President Trump? Well, it's looking increasingly likely that - and this may come as a shock - he was not exactly truthful.
According to the Wall Street Journal, lawmakers are investigating whether an attorney for Cohen raised the possibility of a pardon with Trump's legal team before Cohen had even been charged. After the FBI raided Cohen's home, hotel room and office, his attorney, Stephen Ryan, reportedly met with members of Trump's legal team to review the legal ramifications of the raid for Trump.
During that conversation, Ryan reportedly floated the notion of a pardon for Cohen should he eventually be convicted. But he likely didn't receive the answer he had been looking for: The consensus among the president's attorneys was that it wouldn't be prudent for Trump to pardon his former fixer, if it came to that.
Not long after, Cohen told George Stephanopoulos that he would put the interests of the country and his family above his loyalty to Trump. A few months later, he struck a plea deal with prosecutors in New York - and then with the Mueller probe.
The president’s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time, these people said. But at least one of them, Mr. Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Mr. Cohen one in the future, they said.
Mr. Ryan also brought up the subject of a pardon with Alan Futerfas, an outside lawyer for the Trump Organization, and the company’s general counsel, Alan Garten, some of the people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Ryan left the impression that if Mr. Cohen couldn’t rely on a pardon, he might cooperate with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office investigating Mr. Cohen, the people said.
While it's true that Cohen never personally asked the president for a pardon, if the WSJ report is accurate, it's clear that inquiries about a pardon were made, and Cohen's response during Wednesday's public hearing was facetious, at best.
But all of this is apparently lost on Democrats. Because, in an ironic twist, Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler has issued subpoenas to all the attorneys allegedly involved in these discussions to try and determine if "a pardon was dangled in front of Cohen" to try and convince him to keep his mouth shut.
Congressional investigators have requested information about conversations between attorneys for Mr. Cohen and the president. In letters sent Monday to dozens of Trump associates - including Mr. Sekulow; former White House counsel Don McGahn; and Mr. Cohen - the House Judiciary Committee sought documents related to “possible pardons” for Mr. Cohen, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Dangling the prospect of a presidential pardon to discourage someone from assisting prosecutors in a criminal investigation could constitute witness tampering or obstruction of justice, according to former federal prosecutors.
President Trump hasn't pardoned any of his former associates who have pleaded guilty - or been convicted - during the Mueller probe.