Cummings says he needs to examine Cohen's testimony further amid GOP allegations of perjury

Cummings says he needs to examine Cohen's testimony further amid GOP allegations of perjury
© Greg Nash

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump tweets, rally chant dominate Sunday shows as president continues attacks Sunday shows - Fallout over Trump tweets Cummings: 'No doubt about it' Trump is a racist MORE (D-Md.) said Thursday that he needs to take a closer look at Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenWill Democrats be up to the task of publicly interviewing Mueller? A question for Robert Mueller Key numbers to know for Mueller's testimony MORE’s remarks under oath and a statement that appears to contradict his testimony before deciding whether to refer him to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.

During his testimony before Cummings's committee last week, the president's former lawyer said he “never” sought a pardon from President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE. But a statement issued by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis appears to contradict his testimony, raising questions about whether Cohen made another false statement to Congress, and if he did so knowingly.

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Cummings, who said at the start of Cohen’s public hearing that he “would be the first” to refer Cohen to the Justice Department if he lied again, said Thursday that he needed more time to look at Cohen’s testimony before deciding whether he would make such a referral.

“I’ve got to make sure they are true inconsistencies and not outright lies,” the Democratic chair told CNN.

Cummings also said that he had told Cohen that he would “nail you to the cross” if Trump’s former fixer lied under oath again.

“And I meant that,” he added.

Davis said in a statement Thursday that Cohen had initially directed his former lawyer, Stephen Ryan, to see if he could obtain a presidential pardon following the FBI raids on his home and office last year. The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday about Cohen seeking a pardon.

But during his testimony before Cummings's panel, Cohen said he "never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump."

Cohen has been dogged with questions about his credibility surrounding his testimony. He has pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress and will report to federal prison in May to serve three years on those charges and other federal crimes.

Some Republicans have seized on Cohen’s past false statements to suggest that he can't be trusted, even under oath. Davis's statement, which maintains that Cohen did not lie during the testimony, is likely to fuel their arguments.

A pair of Trump allies on Capitol Hill — House Oversight and Reform Committee ranking member Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWill Democrats be up to the task of publicly interviewing Mueller? 10 questions for Robert Mueller DOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers request documents on DC councilman ethics investigation House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, requested the day after Cohen's hearing that the Justice Department investigate Cohen for perjury. 

Jordan again raised that point on Thursday, tweeting that he believed Cohen lied and noting Cummings’ pledge to not tolerate future false statements from Trump’s ex-lawyer.

“What do you plan to do to hold him accountable?” Jordan tweeted at Cummings.

Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani also called for action against Cohen, tweeting Thursday that he is waiting for Democrats “to demand a perjury prosecution for the man who made fools out of them by lying under oath.”

“Do they care about the truth? Or is it get Trump at any cost, even to their own integrity?” Giuliani continued.

 

 

 

But Democrats aren’t necessarily rushing to judgement on Cohen’s statement.

Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Judge upholds Trump expansion of non-ObamaCare plans | Williamson says she believes in vaccines | House committee to hold oversight hearing on Juul History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Democrat grills DHS chief over viral image of drowned migrant and child MORE (D-Ill.), a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee as well as the Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that Cummings is a very “careful person” who likely will want to look at all of the facts before deciding whether Cohen perjured himself. Cohen also testified behind closed doors for two days with the House Intelligence Committee.

“I think, knowing him, he’s going to want to look at everything before making a decision,” Krishnamoorthi said of Cummings.