President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen on Wednesday gave the House Intelligence Committee documents that reveal alleged editing to the statement he used to lie to Congress in 2017 about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the presidential election, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC.
Cohen testified last week in public before another House committee that Trump’s then-personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, in 2017 had edited the statement before Cohen delivered it to the intelligence committees of both the House and the Senate.
At his closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Cohen submitted documents in connection with that earlier claim, the source said.
Cohen’s disclosure of documents was first reported by CNN. The Intelligence Committee called Cohen back for additional questioning Wednesday after he completed more than seven hours of testimony before the committee last week.
Cohen, 52, pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress in that statement by falsely claiming the Trump Tower effort was dropped months before Trump locked up the presidential nomination in 2016, and by minimizing Trump’s level of involvement in the project.
In his public testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, Cohen was asked about his false statement by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.
“You said you lied to Congress about Trump’s negotiations to build his Moscow Tower because he made it clear to you that he wanted you to lie,” Raskin, said. “One of the reasons you knew this was because ‘Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.'”
Raskin, noting that “this is a pretty breathtaking claim,” then asked, “Which specific lawyers reviewed and edited your statement to Congress on the Moscow Tower negotiations and did they make any changes to your statement?”
“There were changes made, additions,” Cohen answered. “Jay Sekulow for one.”
Cohen said that “several changes” were made, “including how we were going to handle that message, which was — the message of course being the length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive.”
Sekulow last week fired back at that claim.
He said that the “testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the president edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false.”
On Wednesday, Sekulow told NBC News, after the new documents were first reported, “We stand by our statement last week.”
Cohen was supposed to surrender to prison Wednesday to begin a three-year sentence. But his surrender was postponed until May 6 to allow him to testify for what have now been four days of hearings at congressional committees, and to continue to recuperate from shoulder surgery.
The now-disbarred lawyer, in addition to pleading guilty to lying to Congress, last year pleaded guilty to financial crimes that benefited him personally, and to campaign finance violations. The campaign charges related to hush money payments that Cohen facilitated to two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.
Cohen has said Trump directed him to arrangement the payments to the women shortly before the 2016 election to prevent their claims from damaging Trump’s chances of winning the presidency. Trump denies that, and also denies having sex with either woman, but he and his company did reimburse Cohen for the payment the lawyer personally made to Daniels.
Cohen’s legal advisor, Lanny Davis, in a statement Wednesday called for the New York attorney general and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to launch a criminal investigation into the hush money payments.
“There can be virtually no doubt, by the admission of Mr. Trump’s own attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on TV, as well as substantial other evidence in documents and other witnesses, that Donald Trump, while president of the United States, committed multiple felonies each time he signed illegal checks for hush money ‘reimbursements’ (Giuliani’s word on TV) to Michael Cohen from … Mr. Trump’s own personal account while he was president,” Davis said.
“The New York State Attorney General and Manhattan District Attorney, based alone on these Trump personal hush money reimbursement checks to Cohen while he was president, probably have jurisdiction to launch an investigation of Mr. Trump,” Davis said.
“Indeed, arguably, the Manhattan DA could seek a criminal indictment of President Trump while he is still president, since the DA is not literally subject to the Department of Justice memo, which has never been tested by the courts, that a sitting president cannot be indicted.”
Danny Frost, a spokesman for Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr., declined to comment on Davis’ request.
The press office for New York Attorney General Letitia James did not immediately respond to a request for comment.