An attorney for Michael Cohen acknowledged in a statement Friday that Cohen was once interested in working in the White House under President Trump but later decided against it – amid claims from Republicans that Cohen lied this week about his past ambitions for a high-profile White House position.
“The fact is, early on, Michael Cohen speculated about a possible position in the White House,” Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement. “But after he consulted with his family and friends, he decided that he preferred to stay at home in New York City and be ‘personal attorney to the president.’”
On Thursday, House Oversight Committee Republicans on Thursday referred Cohen to the Justice Department for alleged perjury, claiming he lied during sworn testimony before the panel a day earlier about a number of issues, including his ambitions to work in the Trump administration. Davis maintains that Cohen was truthful.
“If this is what Mr. Trump and his supporters are focusing on -- and not a single rebuttal of any fact asserted by Mr. Cohen in his long day of testimony under oath before the Oversight Committee -- that says a lot,” Davis said Friday. “This is the classic Trump tactic we have seen for a long time —divert and disparage rather than confront facts and tell the truth.”
In their referral, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., claimed that Cohen made false statements regarding his desire to work in the White House, or in some role in the Trump administration.
“Mr. Cohen repeatedly testified that he did not seek employment in the White House following President Trump’s election,” they wrote. “This is demonstrably, materially, and intentionally false.”
During the hearing, Jordan scorched Cohen, claiming that he turned on President Trump because he didn’t land a job at the White House. Cohen, though, denied this and said he, instead, wanted to be “the personal attorney to the president.”
“I got exactly what I wanted,” Cohen said.
Following the exchange, the president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, weighed in on Twitter, claiming Cohen was “lobbying EVERYONE to be ‘Chief of Staff,’” and that it was “the biggest joke of the entire transition.”
Earlier Friday, the president accused Cohen of committing perjury and blasted him over reports of a past Cohen book proposal that apparently painted the president in a positive light, saying his former lawyer's pitch contradicts this week's congressional testimony and renders him “totally discredited.”
“Michael Cohen’s book manuscript shows that he committed perjury on a scale not seen before. He must have forgotten about his book when he testified. What does Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, say about this one. Is he being paid by Crooked Hillary. Using her lawyer?” Trump tweeted Friday morning.
Later Friday, Davis responded to Trump in a statement: “Sometime in early 2018, Mr. Cohen was offered a substantial advance for a proposal regarding a book on understanding Donald Trump. Mr. Cohen ultimately elected not to proceed. In other words, POTUS has yet lied again...but what’s the difference between 9000 or 9001 lies?”