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Lawyer Associated with Giuliani Said Cohen Could 'Sleep Well Tonight
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13 Mar 2019 05:46 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Michael Cohen (Image source: Screenshot)

 

Even with evidence it's hard to know who is telling the truth in this case. Michael Cohen says Donald Trump's lawyers "dangled" a pardon in front of him, but the attorneys say it was Cohen who was asking for the pardon. Cohen, trying to prove his point, submitted emails from correspondence with an associate of Rudy Giuliani's who said Cohen could "sleep well tonight" after he'd spoken with Giuliani

 

This issue came up when Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, testified before the House Oversight Committee. He testified that he hadn't asked for a pardon but that it was offered to him. Trump's attorneys dispute this, so Cohen offered the emails during the closed-door testimony, according to sources who are familiar with his testimony. 

At stake is determining which testimony is accurate: Cohen's Congressional testimony in 2017 or his testimony a few weeks back. His Republican foes charge that he is always lying. He states he was before but is now telling the truth. The House GOP believe he is lying now so that he can get a lighter sentence. But he was already sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes.

 

In an email exchange with Giuliani associate Robert Costello, he not only said the disgraced attorney could "sleep well tonight" but also explained it was because he had "friends in high places." 

However, Costello told CNN that Cohen's version of the story is "utter nonsense."

 

"Does dangled mean that he [Cohen] raised it and I mentioned it to Giuliani, and Giuliani said the president is not going to discuss pardons with anybody? If that's dangling it, that's dangling it for about 15 seconds," said Costello, who has worked with Giuliani for several decades and was considering representing Cohen. 

"The first time I kind of danced around the issue because Michael brought it up with me, and I told him, 'Look, this is way too premature. ... But if you want me to bring it up, I will bring it up.' And I did."

 

To set the scene, this was when everyone was still on speaking terms. This was after Cohen's home and office were raided by the FBI, and he and Trump were in a joint defense together. A few months later Cohen spoke up against him for the first time, and the following month took a plea deal implicating the president as taking part in the hush payments for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. 

A source with knowledge of Cohen's thoughts before the raid disagrees with Costello's explanation and insists it was Giuliani's associate who was pushing it and not Cohen. Someone familiar with the emails added that Trump's attorneys were trying to keep Cohen quiet and thought the suggestion of a pardon might help with that.

 

Giuliani told CNN the emails weren't even about pardons. "That was about Michael Cohen thinking that the president was mad at him," he explained. "I called [Costello] to reassure him that the president was not mad. It wasn't long after the raid, and the president felt bad for him." 

"I just spoke to Rudy Giuliani and told him I was on your team," Costello wrote in the first email that was obtained by CNN. "He asked me to tell you that he knows how tough this is on you and your family, and he will make [sure] to tell the president. He said thank you for opening this back channel of communication and asked me to keep in touch."

 

In the next email, he told Cohen he had talked with Giuliani and said that it was "very, very positive." 

"There was never a doubt, and they are in our corner," wrote Costello. "Rudy said this communication channel must be maintained. He called it crucial and noted how reassured they were that they had someone like me whom Rudy has known for so many years in this role."

 

"Sleep well tonight," he concluded, "you have friends in high places." 

Costello now explains he first started talking to Cohen after the FBI raid last April. He was brought in to Cohen's case by his law partner, Jeffrey Citron, who had a previous relationship with Cohen. Citron told Cohen that Costello had experience with the Southern District of New York and in dealing with "highly sensitive matters."

 

He says a retainer was not signed. Stephen Ryan was representing Cohen at the time while the documents seized in the raid were being reviewed. One source said he was mostly concerned with the campaign finance violation at that point. 

Costello also explained that one reason he spoke with Giuliani was because Cohen was worried Trump was upset with him or thought that he was upset with Trump because of a New York Times report that said Trump didn't treat Cohen well. They stopped talking just after Giuliani officially joined Trump's legal team and the raid.

 

"He wanted to make sure that the boss or the big guy knew that he didn't hate Trump. That he wasn't blaming Trump," reasoned Costello. "There were reports out there that Trump hated Cohen and that Cohen hated Trump. ... Michael couldn't say whether Trump hated him. He didn't think so, but he wanted to make sure that Trump knew that he didn't hate Trump." 

The morning after the first Costello email, Trump tweeted, "Most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if ... it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don't see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!"

 

In the second email Costello included a "P.S." that mentioned  the "very positive comments about you from the White House. Rudy noted how that followed my chat with him last night." 

Cohen testified that he spoke more directly about a pardon with Jay Sekulow, another Trump attorney, but Sekulow denies it.

 

House Democrats intend to follow up on this. "Congress is investigating reports that Trump and his legal team privately dangled pardons to obstruct investigations, including ours," said House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff this week. 

Cohen's current attorney, Michael Monico, sent a letter to House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on Tuesday that said his client's statement "could have been clearer" with regards to the timing of the pardon conversation and when he left the joint defense agreement. However, he also said Cohen's statement was still true, and he stands by it.

 

What's interesting to note that if Cohen's version of events turns out to be true, it's one more thing going against Trump and deflates everything the House Republicans were trying to do. They were trying to show Cohen was a liar and that he was only testifying against Trump because he wanted a lighter sentence or a pardon. 

However, if it turns out to be true, it proves it's one more time when Cohen was telling the truth, and it takes Trump and his legal team down yet one more notch.

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