AP NEWS

NY attorney says feds probing his pardon talks with Cohen

March 14, 2019
FILE - In this March 6, 2019, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, returns to Capitol Hill in Washington, to appear before the House Intelligence Committee. An attorney who says he sought a presidential pardon for Cohen has agreed to provide documents to federal prosecutors. Attorney Robert Costello said in a statement Wednesday that the records would support his claim that Cohen asked him to broach the possibility of a pardon. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have requested copies of communications Michael Cohen had with a New York attorney who broached the possibility of a pardon from President Donald Trump, the attorney said Wednesday.

The attorney, Robert J. Costello, released a statement disputing Cohen’s claim that Trump “dangled” a presidential pardon in front of Cohen before he began cooperating with federal prosecutors and special counsel Robert Mueller.

“We have documents to back our position up, and are preparing to provide these to the U.S. Attorney’s office, who has asked for them,” Costello said in the statement. The statement referred to Cohen’s account of the pardon discussions as “utter nonsense.”

Federal prosecutors requested emails and documents from Costello last week amid an investigation into “possible violations of federal criminal law,” The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing a copy of the request.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment.

Attorneys for Trump and Cohen have offered dueling versions of events about the pardon talks and whether Cohen misled a congressional committee during testimony last month. Trump last week called Cohen, his former personal attorney, a liar and alleged in a tweet that Cohen “directly asked” for a pardon.

Costello, in an interview with CNN Wednesday, said it was Cohen who raised the specter of a pardon, and said he brought the matter up with Trump’s legal team even though he thought it was premature at the time. Costello was not retained by Cohen but had several conversations with him after the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office last April.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed that Costello, a former federal prosecutor, reached out to him after the raid.

“My answer was the president is not going to consider or give any pardons now,” Giuliani told The Associated Press. “As I have said in the past, the president has the right to, and that doesn’t mean he won’t consider it when the investigation is over.”

Costello did not respond to repeated messages from The Associated Press.

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, declined to comment.

Costello’s remarks came a day after Cohen’s lawyers sent a letter to the House Oversight Committee seeking to clarify Cohen’s testimony last month that he never sought a pardon from the president.

Cohen declared under oath Feb. 27, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.”

But his attorney Michael Monico told the committee in a letter Tuesday that Cohen asked his lawyer to explore the possibility of a pardon before Cohen left a joint-defense agreement and turned against Trump last June.

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Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire and Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.