WASHINGTON—Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are calling on Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to refer former personal attorney to President Donald Trump Michael Cohen to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
They allege that Cohen lied to Congress seven additional times during a Feb. 27 Oversight Committee hearing after pleading guilty last year to lying to Congress.
“Ranking Member [Jim] Jordan (R-Ohio) and the rest of us warned the Democrats that we couldn’t trust a man who was going to jail for lying to Congress,” Oversight member Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said during a press conference in Washington April 10. “But they couldn’t help themselves—they took the bait, hook, line and sinker.”
Green has authored a resolution that calls on the transcript of the Feb. 27 hearing to be sent to the Department of Justice to “aid the Attorney General’s consideration of investigation and potential prosecution of Michael Cohen’s criminal conduct.” The Oversight GOP says they plan to vote on the resolution in two weeks.
The main lie, the committee Republicans allege, centers around Cohen’s assertion during the hearing that he never asked Trump to pardon him.
‘‘I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump,” he told the committee.
In a letter to Cummings, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, said that Cohen “could have been clearer regarding the time frames,” which contradicts Cohen’s statement that he “never” asked for a pardon.
Cummings said on CNN on March 7 that he told Cohen he would “‘nail you to the cross [if you lie].’ And I meant that.” Cummings also said he needed to make sure “they are true inconsistencies and not outright lies. And then I gotta find out if it meets even the threshold that the DOJ would even want to look at it.”
But after reviewing a letter from Davis, Cummings said that, at least on that point, he wasn’t going to press for a perjury investigation.
“Our practice on this Committee is to give witnesses an opportunity to clarify their testimony, and that is what Mr. Cohen has done,” Cummings wrote in a March 13 statement. “I do not see the need for further action—at least at this time. However, I understand that Mr. Cohen may have answered more detailed questions on this same topic the day after our hearing when the Intelligence Committee had him in for a closed session. We will review that transcript when it becomes available and determine whether any additional steps are required.”
Republicans allege that Democrats don’t dispute that Cohen lied in that hearing. NTD called and emailed Cummings’s office to verify that, but has not yet received a response.
A month and a half after Cohen’s testimony, Republicans say the chairman has had enough time to review the transcripts and make a decision as to whether Cohen lied.
“His inaction, and the inaction of House Democrats, only encourages future witnesses to lie to us,” Green said. “Democrats claim that they want to get to the truth, but it appears that they’re perfectly OK with witnesses lying to them, as long as it supports their anti-Trump agenda.”
Cohen Already Facing 3 Years Behind Bars
Last November, Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to Congress as part of a plea deal made with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The perjury charge stems from a letter Cohen sent on Aug. 28, 2017, to the House and Senate Intelligence committees, in which he gave a false statement about a Trump Organization real estate project in Moscow.
He is set to go to prison in May to serve three years for lying to Congress and other federal crimes.
Oversight member Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Oversight Ranking Member Jim Jordan have already sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr asking him to look into whether Cohen perjured himself again this year.
Jordan had also tried to introduce the resolution to the committee in March, according to a press release from Green’s office.
Green’s privileged committee resolution was filed April 2.
“There will be a vote on this,” Meadows said. “Hopefully, we will see that Democrats have come together in a bipartisan way to say that we will not allow a witness to come in here and lie and lie.”