WASHINGTON — House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Turner asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Michael Cohen, after Donald Trump’s former fixer told a New York court that he had lied about his handling of the former president’s business dealings in sworn testimony to Congress.
“That Mr. Cohen was willing to openly and brazenly state at trial that he lied to Congress on this specific issue is startling,” Stefanik, of New York, and Turner, of Ohio, both Republicans, wrote in a letter to Garland obtained first by NBC News. “His willingness to make such a statement alone should necessitate an investigation.”
Appearing as a key witness in Trump’s New York civil fraud case last month, Cohen said he made false claims under oath when he told the House Intelligence Committee that neither Trump nor Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, asked him to inflate the numbers on Trump’s personal financial statement.
Cohen was questioned by an attorney for Trump over his deposition on Feb. 28, 2019, and asked whether he was “being honest in front of the Permanent Select Committee.” Cohen said he had not been and conceded that he had lied. After working for Trump for years, Cohen turned on Trump in 2018 and later testified against him before Congress.
Trump’s defense in the New York case has questioned Cohen’s credibility repeatedly.
Stefanik, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has urged the same.
“The Biden Justice Department must take off its partisan blinders and investigate disgraced fraudster and disbarred attorney Michael Cohen, a felon previously convicted for lying to Congress, who just admitted to lying again to Congress,” she said in a statement to NBC News.
In a statement, Cohen rejected Stefanik and Turner’s perjury claim and accused the lawmakers of working on behalf of the former president to muddy the waters in his legal case.
“Republican Congress members Stefanik and Turner continue to do Donald’s bidding in witness tampering and obstructing justice,” Cohen said. “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.”
Cohen added, “I am not concerned at all with their baseless request.”
Further, Cohen warned, “This is the type of harassment everyone, especially critics, should expect if Donald becomes President again!
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.
The criminal referral against Cohen comes just days after Stefanik, a top Trump ally, filed a judicial ethics complaint against the judge presiding over the case.
Trump is accused of purposely overstating the value of his family’s real estate assets in a suit that threatens the former president’s control of his business.
In 2018, Cohen, Trump’s one-time personal attorney, pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to Congress about his work on a Trump-branded real estate project in Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.
His testimony last month came amid a dramatic showdown that saw Trump storm out of the courtroom after the judge presiding over the case fined him $10,000 for violating a gag order. The former president returned to court later that day.
Trump, the Republican front-runner in the polls in the 2024 presidential race, has stoked controversy over suggestions that if returned to office, he could use the federal government to pursue his opponents as he believes the government has been weaponized against him.
In an interview last week with the Spanish-language channel Univision, Trump said that “if they do this, and they’ve already done it, but if they follow through on this, yeah, it could certainly happen in reverse.”