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 CummingsHouse Dems renew push for government contractor back pay Cummings demands ex-Fox News reporter share information on Stormy Daniels payments The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP MORE (D-Md.) said Thursday that he needs to take a closer look at Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenDems fear Trump is looking at presidential pardons Cummings demands ex-Fox News reporter share information on Stormy Daniels payments Trump job approval slips 4 points in Gallup poll 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 TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report 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 JordanJordan jokes that sport coats inhibit him during heated hearings Attorney previously in contact with Cohen pushes back on pardon narrative to CNN Cummings refuses to join GOP's criminal referral of Cohen over perjury concerns MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsDems fear Trump is looking at presidential pardons H.R. 1 falls short of real reform Divisions emerge over House drug price bills 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 KrishnamoorthiHouse passes series of measures hitting Russia, Putin Cummings says he needs to examine Cohen's testimony further amid GOP allegations of perjury House Intel obtains new info, documents from Cohen in 8-hour interview 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.