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Dem chairman satisfied, for now, with Cohen answer on pardon

FILE - In this March 6, 2019 file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, speaks as he departs after testifying before a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington. Cohen sues the Trump Organization, on Thursday, March 7, saying he is owed $1.9 million.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen's lawyer sent a letter Tuesday to the head of the House Oversight Committee clarifying Cohen's testimony that he never sought a pardon from President Donald Trump.

Michael Monico told Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in the letter that Cohen had asked his lawyer to explore the possibility of a pardon before Cohen left a joint-defense agreement and turned against Trump last June.

Cohen's public committee testimony last month "could have been clearer and more complete," Monico wrote in the letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Congressional investigators appear to be focusing on presidential powers as a significant line of questioning in their probes.

Cohen's Feb. 27 declaration that "I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump" set off a firestorm that culminated in Trump calling him a liar on Twitter.

Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani went back-and-forth in dueling interviews and tweets. Trump weighed in on Friday, tweeting that Cohen had personally asked him for a pardon. Cohen denied that minutes later in a tweet of his own.

Monico reiterated that denial in his letter to Cummings, saying Cohen never asked Trump for a pardon and that Trump never offered one.

Monico said Cohen had asked a prior lawyer to inquire about a possible pardon because Trump had "publicly dangled the possibility of pardons when commenting about ongoing investigations."

"With that in mind, as a past member of the joint defense team, Mr. Cohen asked his then attorney to discuss with another Trump attorney possible pardon options consistent with the President's prior public declarations," Monico said. Nothing ever came of that effort, he said.

Cohen is slated to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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