President Trump said Friday that his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had “directly” asked him for a presidential pardon, a claim that Cohen promptly branded part of “another set of lies” from the president.
“Bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen said under sworn testimony that he never asked for a Pardon,” Trump said in a tweet. “His lawyers totally contradicted him. He lied! Additionally, he directly asked me for a pardon. I said NO. He lied again! He also badly wanted to work at the White House. He lied!”
In his tweet, Trump, who has been seeking to discredit Cohen as he cooperates with federal prosecutors, referenced congressional testimony last week in which Cohen said he had never asked for, and would not accept, a pardon from Trump.
Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, later said that before July, Cohen directed an attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon with Trump’s lawyers. After that point, Davis said Cohen authorized him to say publicly that he would never accept a pardon and that remains true.
In response to Trump’s tweet, Cohen wrote on Twitter: “Just another set of lies by @POTUS @realDonaldTrump.”
“Mr. President . . . let me remind you that today is #InternationalWomensDay,” Cohen continued. “You may want use today to apologize for your own #lies and #DirtyDeeds to women like Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford.”
McDougal, a former Playboy playmate, and Clifford, an adult-film star, are two women for whom Cohen has said he arranged hush payments at Trump’s direction to conceal alleged affairs with Trump.
Cohen is set to report to prison in May for three years stemming from charges that include campaign-finance violations related to those payments. Other charges included lying to Congress and financial improprieties.
Trump and his Republican allies have also sought to undermine Cohen by arguing that his testimony that he didn’t want to work in the White House is inconsistent with what prosecutors have said and what he has told associates.
Cohen spent three days on Capitol Hill last week in dramatic public and private hearings in which he apologized for lying to lawmakers and divulged what he said Trump knew about financial infractions and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
In a public hearing before a House hearing last week, Cohen also attacked Trump’s character, calling him a con man and a racist and voicing deep regret for working by his side for more than a decade.
Cohen returned to Capitol Hill this week to provide additional closed-door testimony.