Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) (shown above right) questioned on Wednesday why Michael Cohen (above left) would be called to testify before Congress when he is going to jail soon for lying to this very body of lawmakers.
Cohen drew the attention of special counsel investigators on a few fronts, as he previously worked as an attorney for President Donald Trump.
He has cooperated with federal investigators and admitted to many of the allegations since August 2018, when he turned himself in.
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The House Oversight and Reform Committee called on him to testify to ask him about allegations against the president.
“Mr. Chairman, here we go,” said Jordan, who serves as ranking member of the committee, in his opening statement.
“Your first big hearing, your first announced witness — Michael Cohen. I want everyone in the room to think about this. The first announced witness for the 116th Congress is a guy who is going in prison [in a few months] for lying to Congress. Mr. Chairman, your chairmanship will always be defined by this hearing.”
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has been trying to get Cohen to testify as part of the group’s investigations into the president.
Cohen has said he is willing to cooperate but asked to postpone the original hearing on February 7. He claimed the president was threatening his family and was concerned about his and their safety.
“This might be the first time someone convicted of lying to Congress has appeared so quickly in front of Congress,” Jordan said on Wednesday. “Certainly it is the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing. And there is a reason this is the first: because no other committee would do it.”
Jordan also claimed the whole hearing was set up by political consultant and Hillary Clinton ally Lanny Davis. He said Davis told members directly that he spent two months trying to set up the hearing by convincing Cohen to testify and Cummings to hold the hearing.
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Trump himself weighed in on the proceedings on Wednesday morning:
Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2019
Jordan isn’t the first person to bring up Cohen’s being an admitted liar in response to the hearing.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and others have also questioned why he would be invited to testify given his past. She called it laughable and pathetic.
“Some will ask if Mr. Cohen was lying then, why should we believe him now,” Cummings said earlier in his opening statement. “This is a legitimate question. As a trial lawyer for many years, I have faced this situation over and over again and I ask the same question. Here is how I view our role. Every one of us has a duty to serve as an independent check for the executive branch. Ladies and gentlemen, we are in search of the truth.”
Cohen admitted to lying to lawmakers in federal court about how much he discussed his proposed business project in Moscow with the president as part of a plea deal.
Cohen pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, including two campaign finance violations related to the presidential election, in August 2018. He then pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress in November 2018. He was later sentenced to three years in prison on December 12. He is scheduled to report for his sentence on May 6.
The special counsel team suggested Cohen receive a tough but fair sentence in a court filing on December 7. The filing suggested it should reflect his lies but also his efforts to remediate his misconduct.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III sentenced him to three years in prison for tax evasion, lying to lawmakers and breaking campaign finance law on December 12.
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