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Cohen lawyer: Client doesn't want to be 'dirtied' by pardon

JOHN WAGNER, TOM HAMBURGER and ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER
The Washington Post

August 22. 2018 8:12PM
President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen walks out of court in New York City, New York, U.S., August 21, 2018. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo)



WASHINGTON — Lanny Davis, a lawyer for President Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, said Wednesday that Trump’s alleged direction of hush payments to two women amounts to impeachable offenses and that Cohen has no interest in being “dirtied” by a presidential pardon of his crimes.

Davis’ comments came during a whirlwind media tour the morning after Cohen admitted in federal court in Manhattan that he violated campaign finance laws by paying hush money to two women at what he said was at Trump’s behest.

In a string of radio and television interviews — including two that aired simultaneously on TV — Davis delivered an array of stinging assessments of Trump that served to further distance Cohen from a President for whom he once said he would take a bullet.

As Davis made the rounds, Trump broke his silence on Cohen’s pleas, writing in a wise-cracking tweet: “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”

In a round of media interviews, Davis suggested that Cohen has information that would be of interest to the special counsel and other law enforcement officials scrutinizing Trump, but he stopped short of offering details.

On Wednesday, New York state’s tax-collecting agency said it had issued a subpoena to Cohen for information related to the President’s personal charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

A spokesman for the agency said that the subpoena was sent “in light of the public disclosures” made Tuesday. The spokesman would not specify what the subpoena seeks.

Both Trump and his foundation have already been sued by the New York attorney general, who alleged that the foundation had engaged in “persistently illegal conduct” under the future President’s leadership. The state tax-collecting agency and the attorney general are still investigating.

In multiple interviews, Davis, a Democrat who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, noted that Cohen grew disillusioned with Trump after watching his friendly demeanor toward Russian President Vladimir Putin at their July summit in Helsinki, Finland.

“He certainly found Donald Trump as President to be unsuitable to hold the office after Helsinki,” Davis said on NBC’s “Today” show. “He worried about the future of our country with somebody who was aligning himself with Mr. Putin.”

In interviews, Davis also sized up the implications for Trump of allegedly having directed Cohen to make payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Both women have alleged that they had sexual affairs with Trump, which he has denied.

“There is no dispute that Donald Trump committed a crime,” Davis, a major supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, asserted on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“Donald Trump is guilty of a crime, and a President of the United States being guilty of a crime is far beyond what has been classically called impeachable offenses,” Davis said during an interview that aired earlier on NPR. (That view was at odds with those of several legal commentators who also appeared on the morning shows.)

Asked on NPR whether Cohen would accept a pardon of his admitted crimes from Trump, Davis gave an emphatic “no.”

“I know that Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from a man that he considers to be both corrupt and a dangerous person in the Oval Office, and he has flatly authorized me to say under no circumstances would he accept a pardon from Mr. Trump,” Davis said.

He went on to criticize Trump as someone “who uses the pardon power in a way that no President in American history has ever used a pardon, to relieve people who have committed crimes who are political cronies of his.”

“Mr. Cohen is not interested in being dirtied by a pardon from such a man,” Davis said.


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