Attorney previously in contact with Cohen pushes back on pardon narrative to CNN

Attorney previously in contact with Cohen pushes back on pardon narrative to CNN
© Greg Nash

A lawyer who was in touch with Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenAvenatti indicted for allegedly defrauding Stormy Daniels The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump blows up meeting after Pelosi 'cover up' remarks Unsealed Mueller docs reveal new details of Cohen probe MORE in spring 2018 told CNN on Monday that Cohen asked him to raise the prospect of a presidential pardon with Rudy Giuliani.

Michael Costello told the news outlet that he was considering representing Cohen at the time and has a decades-long relationship with Trump’s lawyer Giuliani.

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Costello called it “utter nonsense” that Cohen is claiming that he only told his lawyers to explore the possibility of a pardon after it was raised by Trump representatives.

"Does dangled mean that [Cohen] raised it and I mentioned it to Giuliani, and Giuliani said the president is not going to discuss pardons with anybody? If that's dangling it, that's dangling it for about 15 seconds," Costello told CNN.

"The first time I kind of danced around the issue because Michael brought it up with me and I told him, 'Look, this is way too premature. ... But if you want me to bring it up, I will bring it up.' And I did,” he continued.

A source with knowledge of Cohen's thinking at the time disputed Costello's account, and said that Costello was instead raising his own ties to Giuliani.

CNN also obtained copies of two emails provided to Congress by Cohen that documented Costello’s correspondence with Cohen in April 2018. The emails did not make a specific reference to a pardon, the network noted.

The network reported that the emails were provided to document the Trump legal team's efforts to offer the possibility of a pardon to Cohen.

Costello first wrote to Cohen that Giuliani “asked me to tell you that he knows how tough this is on you and your family and he will make [sure] to tell the President. He said thank you for opening this back channel of communication and asked me to keep in touch."

In a second email, Costello told Cohen that he had a “very very positive conversation with Giuliani.”

"There was never a doubt and they are in our corner," Costello wrote in the email. "Rudy said this communication channel must be maintained. He called it crucial and noted how reassured they were that they had someone like me whom Rudy has known for so many years in this role."

"Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places," he added.

CNN noted that it’s unclear as to what Cohen responded to Costello, if he did at all.

Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis told The Hill that he couldn’t comment about the emails if it pertained to any documents given to the House or Senate Intelligence committees.

He said in a statement that from his own experience, “it is impossible to deny or try to spin your way out of what documents say.”

“For example, Michael Cohen in his public testimony did not ask anyone to rely on what he was saying alone. He provided documents that speak for themselves to corroborate what he was saying,” said Davis, an opinion contributor to The Hill.

Giuliani told CNN that the emails in questions were “about Michael Cohen thinking that the president was mad at him.”

"I called [Costello] to reassure him that the president was not mad. It wasn't long after the raid and the President felt bad for him,” Giuliani said.

Costello also told CNN that Cohen had asked him to reach out to Giuliani over concerns that the president was upset with Cohen.

"He wanted to make sure that the boss or the big guy knew that he didn't hate Trump. That he wasn't blaming Trump," Costello told the outlet. "There were reports out there that Trump hated Cohen, and that Cohen hated Trump. ... Michael couldn't say whether Trump hated him. He didn't think so. But he wanted to make sure that Trump knew that he didn't hate Trump."

Cohen testified during his public hearing last month before the House Oversight and Reform Committee that he had never sought a pardon from Trump.

But Davis later acknowledged in a statement that Cohen had previously directed his attorneys to explore the possibility of a pardon after it was raised by representatives for the president.

Some Republicans have been urging House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsNancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now House Democrats, Trump lawyers ask appeals court to expedite subpoena case Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech MORE (D-Md.) to refer Cohen to the Justice Department for perjury; Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHillicon Valley: Lawmakers seek 'time out' on facial recognition tech | DHS asks cybersecurity staff to volunteer for border help | Judge rules Qualcomm broke antitrust law | Bill calls for 5G national security strategy Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech Amazon shareholders vote down limits on facial recognition software MORE (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadow (R-N.C.) formally made that request last Wednesday.

However, Cummings has said he wants to examine the transcript of Cohen's private interview with the House Intelligence Committee before making a decision.

"I do not see the need for further action — at least at this time," Cummings said of Cohen's testimony in a statement.