I knew this had to have happened.
Courtesy of Slate:
After the April 2018 raid of Michael Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room rattled the White House and Trump world writ large, attorneys for the former Trump personal lawyer approached the president’s legal team about the possibility of a presidential pardon, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The ask reportedly came when Cohen’s attorney at the time, Stephen Ryan, was working side-by-side with Trump’s lawyers to figure out what documents seized by the FBI during the raid might be protected by attorney-client privilege. Trump’s legal team, which included Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani, apparently rejected the idea, but, according to the Journal, Giuliani left open the possibility of a future pardon for the Trump consigliere.
Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee last week he had not asked to receive a presidential pardon, saying: “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from Mr. Trump.” This leaves open the question of whether Cohen was aware of the pardon discussion initiated by his attorney who, according to the WSJ, “left the impression that if Mr. Cohen couldn’t rely on a pardon, he might cooperate with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office investigating Mr. Cohen…” Giuliani, for his part, would not confirm whether Cohen’s lawyer had requested a pardon, but the longtime Trump confidant turned Russia investigation lawyer has said that attorneys have reached out to him about potential pardons. “I would assume, ones representing Cohen” were among them, Giuliani semi-cryptically told the WSJ. Cohen changed attorneys shortly after the raid, document review and reported presidential stiff arm, marking a strategic shift by breaking with President Trump.
The article goes on to point out that Trump himself publicly said when asked about pardons that “nothing was off the table” which has been interpreted to suggest that Trump may at least have teased some of his associated with the possibility of a presidential pardon.
There is as yet no evidence that Cohen even knew about this potential offer, or ever considered holding out in the hopes of receiving a pardon.
What we do know is that after Cohen’s home and office were raided by the Feds that he quickly decided he wanted to start cooperating with Mueller and later expressed real shame at having ever had any faith in Donald Trump.
You may also have noticed Giuliani identified that lawyers for others under investigation or already charged have reached out for pardons, which makes me think that at least a few of them may have reached a deal with Trump’s attorneys.
I’m looking at you Paul Manafort.