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 CummingsLawmakers dedicate Oversight room to Cummings, unveil plaque Oversight Committee room to be dedicated to late Rep. Elijah Cummings House wants documents on McEntee's security clearances MORE (D-Md.) said Thursday that he needs to take a closer look at Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenFree Roger Stone Trump calls the Russia investigation 'bulls---' CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group 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 TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary 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 JordanTrump upends controversial surveillance fight Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates Trump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSanders, socialism emerge as top targets at CPAC Trump upends controversial surveillance fight House Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid 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 KrishnamoorthiHillicon Valley: Barr threatens tech's prized legal shield | House panel seeks information from Amazon's Ring | Trump DOJ backs Oracle in Supreme Court fight against Google | TikTok unveils new safety controls House subcommittee requests information from Ring about cooperation with police, local governments Lawmakers with first-hand experience using food stamps call on Trump not to cut program 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.