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Top House Republicans ask Justice Department to investigate Michael Cohen’s testimony in Trump civil fraud trial

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Two top House Republicans asked the Justice Department to investigate Michael Cohen over whether he committed perjury to Congress, citing his testimony in the New York civil fraud trial of Donald Trump and his business, according to a copy of the letter shared with CNN.

In their letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner and GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik highlight that Cohen, former President Trump’s one-time lawyer and fixer, said under oath during the trial last month that he lied during his deposition to the House Permanent Select Committee in 2019. But their letter leaves out follow-up testimony from Cohen saying he misspoke.

When asked on February 28, 2019, if Trump directed him to inflate then-President Trump’s finances, Cohen said: “Not that I recall, no.”

During the trial in New York last month, Cohen initially testified that he had lied under oath to Congress when he said he did not recall. Asked specifically if he was being honest in 2019, Cohen said “no.” Pressed in a follow-up question if he lied under oath, Cohen responded “yes.”

“This statement by Mr. Cohen raises significant questions about his testimony before the Committee,” Turner and Stefanik wrote to Garland.

But asked later during the New York trial, Cohen said he made a mistake when he testified he lied to Congress in 2019 – a part of the transcript that Turner and Stefanik leave out of their letter to Garland.

“I made a mistake,” Cohen told the court, attempting to correct what he said earlier in his testimony. Cohen added that he stands by his original statement to Congress in 2019.

Cohen accused Stefanik and Turner of doing Trump’s bidding in a statement to CNN.

“The two members fail to understand the distinction between explicit and implied; which is how the question was asked and accurately responded to. The topic was further clarified several questions thereafter; which is conveniently and intentionally being ignored. I am not concerned at all with their baseless request,” Cohen said. “This is the type of harassment everyone, especially critics, should expect if Donald becomes President again!”

Lying to Congress under oath is a federal crime.

Turner and Stefanik point out in their letter to the Justice Department that Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to making false statements to Congress about his conversations with then-candidate Donald Trump about plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

“Mr. Cohen’s prior conviction for lying to Congress merits a heightened suspicion that he has yet again testified falsely before Congress,” the Republican lawmakers wrote.

Trump has repeatedly slammed the New York attorney general’s office for using Cohen as a witness in their civil fraud trial against him, arguing he has lied under oath before and therefore cannot be a credible witness.

Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, has become a key point person for Trump on Hill investigations. The New York Republican talks to Trump roughly once a week, frequently briefing him on the House committees’ work, CNN previously reported.

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