Cohen told lawmakers that Trump lawyer Sekulow instructed him to lie about Moscow tower project: report

The president's former personal lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: White House, Dems debate coronavirus relief package Michael Cohen offered job as political consultant, lawyer says On The Money: Democratic leaders report 'some progress' in stimulus talks | Prosecutors hint at probe into 'possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization' MORE told lawmakers during a closed-door hearing earlier this year that Trump attorney Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Trump complains of 'political prosecution' after SCOTUS rulings on financial records Appeals court rejects Trump effort to throw out emoluments case MORE instructed him to lie about when negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow ended, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Cohen falsely claimed in 2017 testimony that talks on the Moscow project ended in January 2016 before later admitting that discussions continued into June of the presidential election year.

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Democrats in the House are currently investigating whether attorneys representing Trump and his family obstructed the panel’s investigation into Russian interference by shaping or editing false testimony.

“We’re trying to find out whether anyone participated in the false testimony that Cohen gave to this committee,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.) told the Post in an interview.

The Moscow Trump Tower, which never came to fruition, was under discussion while the intelligence community says Russian was engaging in a multipronged election interference campaign with the intention of helping to elect Trump.

During two closed-door hearings before the House Intelligence Committee, Cohen was more specific about the changes Sekulow asked him to make, including saying Jan. 31, 2016, was the date on which discussions about the Moscow project ended, people familiar with his testimony told the Post.

Sekulow told Cohen the date was significant because it came before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses, the opening contest of the White House race, Cohen reportedly told the committee.

Cohen’s claims led Schiff to request documents from Sekulow; Alan Futerfas, Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpWatchdog to weigh probe of Trump administration advancements of Pebble Mine Trump pledges to look at 'both sides' on Pebble Mine Twitter limits Donald Trump Jr.'s account after sharing coronavirus disinformation MORE's attorney; Alan Garten, the Trump Organization's top lawyer; and Abbe Lowell, Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpUS should support Ngozi for WTO Director General   Trump administration awarding M in housing grants to human trafficking survivors Deutsche Bank launches investigation into longtime banker of Trump, Kushner MORE's attorney. 

The four lawyers through their own counsels declined to comply with the document request or submit to interviews on April 5, describing the requests as “unprecedented” and outside the scope of the panel’s oversight authorities in a letter to the committee.

They also claimed the information requested would fall under attorney-client privilege.

"The privilege doesn’t apply if it’s being used to conceal a crime or a fraud,” Schiff told the Post in response to the lawyers declining to comply. “And if the attorneys were conferring amongst themselves and Mr. Cohen about a false statement they were going to make to our committee, there’s no privilege that protects that kind of conduct.”

Jane Serene Raskin and Patrick Strawbridge, attorneys for Sekulow, told the Post that “Cohen’s alleged statements are more of the same from him and confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Cohen’s ‘instinct to blame others is strong.’”

“That this or any Committee would rely on the word of Michael Cohen for any purpose — much less to try and pierce the attorney-client privilege and discover confidential communications of four respected lawyers — defies logic, well-established law and common sense,” they added.

When Cohen told the House Oversight Committee during a public hearing in January that Sekulow made changes to his 2017 statement, Sekulow called the assertion “completely false.”

The Hill has reached to representatives for Lanny Davis, Cohen's spokesman and lawyer, for comment on the Post's report.

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Cohen's testimony.

Cohen is currently serving a 3-year sentence for lying to Congress, financial crimes and campaign finance violations.

The claims from Cohen's testimony come as the Trump White House digs in against Democrats' attempts at oversight in the wake of the completion of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation into the Kremlin's 2016 meddling. 

Mueller did not accuse Trump or members of his campaign with conspiring with Russia, but laid out several instances of possible obstruction of justice from the president. 

Since the release of Mueller's redacted report by the Justice Department, the White House has repeatedly refused House Democrats' subpoenas for records and demands for officials' testimony.