President Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen told lawmakers during closed-door testimony earlier this year that Mr. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow instructed him to lie to Congress about the timing of negotiations to build a “Trump Tower” in Moscow while the 2016 presidential campaign was underway.
The Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to publicly release testimony and exhibits provided by Cohen in February and March. The transcripts show Mr. Trump’s former lawyer told Congress that Sekulow suggested he tell lawmakers that negotiations to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital came to a halt in January 2016 — before the first Republican primary ballots were cast in the Iowa caucus.
Cohen reported to federal prison earlier this month to begin serving a three-year sentence for several crimes, including tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress about the Trump Tower project.
According to the transcripts, Cohen told lawmakers on the committee that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, also reviewed his prepared testimony before Congress and was aware of the “false” statements it contained. Cohen said Lowell, through an intermediary, instructed him to edit his testimony to distance Ivanka from the “Trump Tower” negotiations.
After his initial testimony before Congress, Cohen said he discussed the possibility of a presidential pardon with Sekulow and an intermediary for Rudy Giuliani, Robert Costello. “Sleep well tonight, you have friend in high places,” Costello wrote in an email to Cohen, according to transcripts released by the committee.
Sekulow’s attorneys, Jane Serene Raskin and Patrick Strawbridge, quickly dismissed Cohen’s statements.
“Michael Cohen’s alleged statements are more of the same from him and confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Cohen’s ‘instinct to blame others is strong,'” they wrote in a statement. “That this or any Committee would rely on the word of Michael Cohen for any purpose — much less to try and pierce the attorney-client privilege and discover confidential communications of four respected lawyers — defies logic, well-established law and common sense.”
The committee has been probing whether attorneys for the president and his family obstructed its Russia investigation by shaping testimony from key witnesses, including Cohen.