Lanny Davis, a legal adviser to Michael Cohen, told lawmakers that he pushed the former Trump attorney to testify before Congress next month, and that the testimony is likely to be “unsatisfying.”
Davis’ remarks are laid out in a letter that two top House Republicans, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, sent to Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, seeking additional details about Cohen’s testimony, which is set for Feb. 7.
In their letter, Jordan and Meadows suggest that Davis wrangled Cohen into testifying before Congress as part of a “media stunt” to smear President Donald Trump. They also question the payment arrangement between Cohen and Davis, noting that the former Trump fixer is not paying Davis, a longtime ally of the Clintons.
According to the letter, Davis told staffers on the House Oversight Committee that Cohen will not be answering questions related to federal and New York state investigations in which Cohen is involved.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Dec. 12 after pleading guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, illegal campaign contributions and lying to Congress.
The lying to Congress component is perhaps most significant because of a report from BuzzFeed on Thursday alleging that Cohen told the special counsel that Trump instructed him to lie to Congress in 2017 about his business dealings in Russia. (RELATED: Mueller’s Office Disputes BuzzFeed Report)
The special counsel issued a rare statement rebuffing the report. But that topic and others related to the Russia probe would likely be off-limits, according to Davis.
It is unclear whether Davis is also ruling out whether Cohen will be allowed to discuss the Steele dossier, which alleges that Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 campaign to pay off Russian hackers. Both Cohen and Davis recently disputed a Dec. 27 report from McClatchy News claiming that Mueller has evidence placing Cohen’s phone near Prague.
“Our Members intend to ask Cohen whatever question they deem appropriate,” Jordan and Meadows write in their letter to Petrillo.
“We will not be hearing testimony about why Cohen intentionally provided false and misleading testimony to the United States Congress in previous appearances. We will not be able to learn more about Cohen’s role in federal campaign finance law violations,” say Jordan and Meadows.
“In fact, according to Davis, Cohen’s testimony will be circumscribed to what he and you are comfortable with him addressing.”
The Republicans said that Davis acknowledged in his meeting with lawmakers that Cohen did not want to testify, both because of his involvement in several investigations and because of fear for his family.
“Davis acknowledged, ‘I pushed him to do this,’ explaining ‘this was my idea; nobody else’s,'” Jordan and Meadows write.
“According to Davis, the sole purpose of Cohen’s appearance before the Committee is to allow Cohen to share his personal anecdotes about his time working for the then-private citizen Donald J. Trump, and his experiences after Mr. Trump became President,” the Republicans said.
Davis also “forewarned the hearing will likely be ‘unsatisfying’ and ‘frustrating’ for Members of the Committee,” they added.
The Republican lawmakers also say that Davis acknowledged he is being paid for his services, but not by Cohen.
“If Davis is providing free media advisory or legal services, or if someone else is paying Davis’s fees, it adds to the perception Cohen’s appearance is a media stunt initiated, produced, and financed by career Democrat political operatives as a way of scoring political points against the President,” Jordan and Meadows write.
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