Cohen’s lawyer calls on Congress to investigate Trump

Toluse Olorunnipa and Kevin Cirilli
Bloomberg News

Michael Cohen’s attorney said Congress should open an investigation into whether President Donald Trump directed his longtime fixer to commit a crime.

“There is most certainly enough evidence now” for Congress to open a probe, Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said in response to a question in a Bloomberg TV interview on Wednesday about whether Congress should pursue impeachment proceedings.

Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegal campaign finance charges over hush money paid to a porn actress and a former Playboy model – all but naming Trump as having ordered him to do it. Trump derided Cohen in a tweet early Wednesday and said he didn’t think the two campaign finance violations were crimes at all.

“That would be the first time in American history that we have evidence of a crime of a president in office, with somebody pleading guilty to a crime and saying that he was directed to commit that crime by a president,” Davis said.

Davis said that his client – Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer – is “willing to cooperate with anyone who asks him questions,” adding that he is “100 percent going to tell the truth.”

U.S. stocks fluctuated in thin trading, and the dollar slumped as investors assessed the latest headlines on the political drama in Washington and on trade disputes.

After first denying knowledge of a payment to former porn actress Stormy Daniels, Trump admitted in May to reimbursing Cohen for the $130,000 payment made on the eve of the election although he maintained the transaction had nothing to do with the campaign or involved campaign funds. Trump was also heard on a 2016 recording made by Cohen that appears to show Trump was informed of the payments.

Earlier Wednesday, Davis told CNN that Cohen has knowledge that would be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether there was collusion with Trump or members of his campaign.

“It’s my observation that Mr. Cohen has knowledge that would be of interest to the special counsel about the issue of whether Donald Trump, ahead of time, knew about the hacking of emails, which is a computer crime," David said.

In a barrage of tweets on Wednesday, Trump at first seemed to shrug off Cohen’s guilty plea with a quip, saying, “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t’ retain the services of Michael Cohen!”

Later, though, Trump wrote, “Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”

In 2010, the Federal Election Commission fined Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign $375,000 for various violations, including accepting $1.4 million in contributions over the legal limit for individual donors. But it found no indication that the candidate was aware of the infractions.

Trump suffered through perhaps the worst day of his presidency Tuesday as Cohen implicated him in a crime at almost the same time his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, became a convicted felon.

“It’s a big day, it’s a bad day,” said John Dean, former White House counsel for Richard Nixon, on the implications of Cohen’s plea on Trump and his presidency. “I think we’ve established today that we have a criminal president, and that is historic.”

Moments after the charges in Cohen’s plea were read aloud in a Manhattan courtroom, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud charges, boosting Mueller’s investigation.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that Manafort, unlike Cohen, “refused to break’ – make up stories in order to get a deal.”’ The president added that “a large number of counts, ten, could not even be decided in the Paul Manafort case.”