March 7, 2019

In response to Michael Cohen's private testimony yesterday, Tim Kaine told CNN's John Berman this morning if Trump is indeed dangling pardons, Congress will "erupt."

"Michael Cohen went before Congress and offered this about the issue of pardons," Berman said.

"I have never asked for, nor would I accept a pardon from President Trump."

"Well, his lawyer Lanny Davis is now telling the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and CNN that Michael Cohen's initial attorney, Steven Ryan, did go talk about the issue of pardons with people connected to the president there. So did Michael Cohen commit perjury when he said that out loud?" Berman asked.

"You know, I have no knowledge, John, about this and so, you know, Michael Cohen's testimony is going to be parsed pretty heavily. What I do know is this. I do worry about this president using pardons or the potential of pardons as a way to sort of keep witnesses in line. It's almost like suborning perjury if you kind of dangle pardon power out to people mad. And if you start to see this president use pardon power for people who are connected with this investigation, I think you'll see Congress erupt," Sen. Kaine said.

As to the question about Cohen, here's what Lanny Davis told the Washington Post:

Cohen’s lawyer Lanny J. Davis said in an interview that Cohen directed his former attorney, Stephen Ryan, to contact Trump’s representatives after they “dangled” the possibility of pardons “in their public statements.” Davis did not specify which public statements swayed Cohen, saying only that the outreach took place before federal law enforcement raided Cohen’s home and office in April 2018.

“They had been dangling it for a while, and it was a constant refrain,” Davis said, referring to Trump representatives’ comments on pardons. “So Michael had his attorney reach out to Rudolph W. Giuliani.”

In other words, Cohen wanted to find out what they were offering. Facing the stress and expenses of the charges against him, he'd be an idiot not to ask about details. I'm sure he found out, as we all know by now, a pardon is an admission of guilt, and is only protective of penalties for federal crimes. Michael Cohen was since convicted by the Southern District of New York, and Trump's pardon would not have helped. So he didn't have his lawyer pursue it? Makes sense.

I don't see where Michael Cohen lied. This seems like one of those fake controversies the media loves to gin up. Asking his lawyer to explore what would be involved is not the same as actually asking for a pardon.

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