Michael Cohen's attorney said former lawyer sought Trump pardon

WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen directed his former lawyer to approach President Donald Trump about a pardon, his current attorney confirmed Thursday.

But Lanny Davis said the revelation does not conflict with his client's congressional testimony in late February in which Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, claimed he never asked for a pardon. 

In a statement Thursday, Davis stressed that Cohen’s willingness to explore a pardon ended when Cohen pulled out of a joint defense agreement with the president's legal team. He said that was when Cohen "authorized me as a new lawyer to say publicly Mr. Cohen would never accept a pardon from President Trump even if offered." 

"That continues to be the case," Davis said. "And his statement at the Oversight Hearing was true – and consistent with his post-joint-defense-agreement commitment to tell the truth." 

Testifying under oath, Cohen told lawmakers on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, "I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump."  

Davis told ABC News that Cohen's statement was "literally true." 

Cohen "never asked President Trump for a pardon," he said. "His lawyer explored the disingenuous 'dangle' repeatedly floated by Rudy (Giuliani) and Trump in one meeting and never followed up."

In his statement Thursday, Davis said Cohen "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." 

Cohen testimony prompts a new question:In web of Trump investigations, is anyone safe?

'I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore':Michael Cohen ties the president to ongoing criminal probes

More:Here's the evidence Michael Cohen shared with Congress, showing hush money payments and Trump's finances

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Giuliani said he had been contacted by "lawyers for several people" who have become embroiled in the Justice Department investigations around the president. But he said he could not confirm Davis' assertion because of attorney-client privilege. 

Giuliani said Trump's policy has been not to consider granting any pardons until the investigations are concluded. 

"I always gave one answer, and they always left disappointed," Giuliani said.

Citing unnamed sources, The Washington Post reported that Cohen told lawmakers during closed-door sessions that Trump attorney Jay Sekulow was also part of the pardon discussions. But the paper said Sekulow flatly denied it and said Cohen's claim was "not true." 

Sekulow also has denied Cohen's allegation that he helped alter Cohen's previous testimony to Congress. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about when negotiations over a Trump Tower Moscow project ended. Cohen told lawmakers that Trump's lawyers, including Sekulow, had altered his testimony to obscure the Trump Tower timeline. 

Sekulow told The Post the claim was "completely false."

Cohen reportedly offered lawmakers a marked-up copy of that testimony to back up his claim. But The Post reported that a person who had seen the document said the changes "were not substantive" and were not about the Moscow project. 

Republicans on Capitol Hill and other Trump supporters have cast doubt on Cohen's credibility since he began to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller. Those attacks were ratcheted up when Cohen – who had already been sentenced to three years in prison, in part for lying to Congress – implicated Trump in illegal activity during his explosive congressional testimony. 

On Twitter, Trump has written several posts accusing Cohen of contradictions between his testimony, where he called Trump a "cheat" and a "racist," and a manuscript he wrote before his legal troubles began, which Trump said was flattering of the president. 

After Cohen's testimony, Oversight Committee Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., sent a 30-page letter to Attorney General William Barr in which they referred Cohen for investigation on perjury charges. They accused him of "intentionally false statements designed to make himself look better on a national stage." 

Davis called the referral a "sad misuse of the criminal justice system." 

Jordan & Meadows:Democrats put out welcome mat for a liar. We can't trust Michael Cohen

More:Trump's 'love letter' book claim the latest attack on Michael Cohen after testimony