Politics

House Republicans ask AG Garland to investigate former Trump lawyer Cohen for perjury

Key Points
  • House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether Donald Trump's former lawyer perjured himself before Congress.
  • Stefanik and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner alleged that Michael Cohen's testimony in Trump's civil business fraud trial contradicted what he told lawmakers under oath.
  • Stefanik recently filed an ethics complaint against Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over Trump's business fraud trial.
House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) speaks during a news conference following a weekly House Republican caucus conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik on Tuesday urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen perjured himself in testimony to Congress.

Stefanik, joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, alleged in a letter that Cohen's recent testimony in Trump's civil business fraud trial in New York contradicted what he told lawmakers under oath in 2019.

Cohen's testimony in both settings centered on his claims of financial wrongdoing by Trump.

Stefanik, a New Yorker who is one of Trump's most vocal allies in Congress, and Turner wrote that Cohen's testimony in New York court "is inconsistent with his testimony" before the House Intelligence panel.

"Mr. Cohen's prior conviction for lying to Congress merits a heightened suspicion that he has yet again testified falsely before Congress," the Republicans wrote.

They asked Garland to investigate whether any of Cohen's testimony "warrants another charge" for violating federal perjury laws.

Tuesday's letter is the second time in less than a week that Stefanik, who is not a lawyer, has formally called for action to be taken against Trump's perceived legal enemies.

Michael Cohen looks towards former U.S. President Donald Trump as he is questioned by a lawyer for the attorney general's office, during the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, October 24, 2023 in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

On Friday, Stefanik filed an ethics complaint against the Manhattan Supreme Court judge presiding over Trump's business fraud trial.

Stefanik's interventions follow speculation that she is a possible contender to be Trump's running mate in his 2024 presidential campaign.

In a statement, Cohen accused Stefanik and Turner of doing "Donald's bidding in witness tampering and obstructing justice."

They "fail to understand the distinction between explicit and implied; which is how the question was asked and accurately responded to," Cohen said, adding "I am not concerned at all with their baseless request."

Cohen's cooperation in the ongoing civil fraud trial was seen as key for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who accuses Trump, his family members and his business of fraudulently inflating his net worth by billions of dollars in order to obtain financial benefits.

The trial threatens to undermine Trump's business empire.

When Cohen took the stand in that trial last month, Trump's attorney grilled him about his deposition before the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 28, 2019.

Cohen was asked in that deposition if Trump directed either him or ex-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg to inflate the values of his assets on his annual financial statements.

"Did he ask me to inflate the numbers? Not that I recall, no," Cohen said in 2019.

On the stand last month, Cohen was pressed on whether that 2019 answer was a lie. "Yes," he said.

But he later walked that statement back, telling a lawyer for James' office that his quotes had been cherry-picked.

Trump "speaks like a mob boss and what he does is he tells you what he wants without specifically telling you," Cohen explained.

He maintained that Trump had directed him and Weisselberg to falsely boost his asset values.