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Cohen’s lawyer says senators failed to ask the right ‘follow-up questions’ in collusion probe

Michael Isikoff
Chief Investigative Correspondent
Yahoo News
Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images, Martin DivisekI/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Michael Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis says that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee failed to ask the right “follow-up questions” when his client appeared before the panel last year and therefore failed to elicit crucial answers about President Trump’s prior knowledge of Russian hacking of Democratic emails during the 2016 election.

Davis was questioned on the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery” about Cohen’s testimony to the Senate intelligence panel last September in which Cohen testified, in a prepared statement:  “I never saw anything — not a hint of anything — that demonstrated [President Trump’s] involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion.”

But Davis, in multiple television appearances this week, gave an apparently conflicting account, suggesting that Cohen has information he is now prepared to tell special counsel Robert Mueller about Trump’s prior knowledge of the hacking.

“Was he telling the truth?” Davis was asked during the “Skullduggery” interview about Cohen’s previous testimony to the Senate.

“He was telling the truth, but there’s a problem in some of the words used there,” Davis replied.

“Those were his words,” it was pointed out to Davis.

Davis then replied that the senators failed to ask the right follow-ups to Cohen’s prepared statement — about Trump’s “level of awareness” of the hacking, seeming to draw a distinction between awareness and “involvement.”

“If he were asked, ‘Were you aware of Mr. Trump’s level of awareness before the hacking illegally done by a foreign government? Were you aware that Mr. Trump might have known and didn’t call the FBI?’ I don’t think you would’ve gotten the answer that you just read. But that question wasn’t asked.”

Davis’s response was significant because Cohen’s previous denials of any knowledge of Russian collusion could expose him to a further felony charge and additional prison time if he now says something else to Mueller. And Senate Intelligence leaders have already flagged the issue, saying this week they wanted to reinterview Cohen after he pleaded guilty to multiple felonies, including campaign finance crimes for paying hush money during the 2016 campaign to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

Download or subscribe on iTunes: “Skullduggery” by Yahoo News

But Davis insisted that “when the time comes” for Cohen to tell his new story to Mueller — and the special counsel is able to “digest” it and piece it together with other evidence — “it could be an impeachable offense” on the part of the president.

Davis, who has practically beseeched Mueller this week to call his client as a witness, has steadfastly refused to specify what Cohen would say about Trump’s knowledge of Russian hacking. He also declined to say whether Mueller has even reached out to Cohen yet, despite Davis’s repeated television interviews offering his client’s testimony.

Davis then wrapped up the “Skullduggery” interview by saying: “Being on this podcast and being asked questions, especially by Michael Isikoff, no offense intended, is the functional equivalent of a root canal without anesthetics.”

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