President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen decided to mediate details about their disintegrating relationship Friday morning in the only way we’d expect: a Twitter fight.
The social media sparring began when Donald Trump tweeted that “bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen” lied under oath during last week’s Congressional testimony about not asking for a presidential pardon (“he directly asked me for a pardon. I said NO.”) and not wanting to work for the administration (“He also badly wanted to work at the White House”). Stating “he lied!” three times in 140 characters.
This contradicts Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee, during which he said, “I have never asked for it, nor would I accept a pardon from President Trump.” (Who he called “a racist”, “a con man”, and “a cheat.”)
In less than 20 minutes, Cohen swatted back tweeting that Trump’s accusation was “just another set of lies.”
However, the veracity of Cohen’s testimony about asking for “never” asking for a pardon was somewhat contradicted by his current lawyer, Lanny Davis, who released a statement Thursday noting that Cohen had expressed interest in a presidential pardon after the FBI searched his home last April.
“Michael was open to the ongoing ‘dangling’ of a possible pardon by Trump representatives privately and in the media,” Davis said in a statement published by The Hill. “During that time period, he directed his attorney to explore possibilities of a pardon at one point with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as other lawyers advising President Trump.”
But Davis continued that since Cohen began working with federal prosecutors in July and “authorized me as a new lawyer to say publicly Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from President Trump even if offered.”
There was no discussion of whether Cohen “directly” asked for a comment like Trump implied, or if it was just explored through his lawyer.
Considering the nature of social media, it could only be expected that other interested parties jump in the fray.
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked Trump if he would be willing to clear things up by giving sworn testimony, “under oath to Mueller or Congress” like Cohen has. “If not, Swalwell wrote, “get out of our Twitter feed and find a less obstructive way to spend your executive time.”
Although Michael Cohen, who has been disbarred and also pleaded guilty for lying to Congress in 2017, is an admitted liar, a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that Americans trusted Cohen more than Trump by a 50% to 35% margin.
While Trump said that Cohen’s testimony was primarily made up of “lies”, the president actually praised him for truthfulness during one part of last month’s Congressional hearing. When Cohen was asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump’s former lawyer said that he didn’t have any direct knowledge that the president had colluded with the foreign government.
“He lied a lot but he didn’t lie about one thing,” Trump said. “I was actually impressed.”
It should be noted that Cohen added a caveat: Although he didn’t have direct evidence, he told Congress, “I have my suspicions.”