Congress just got evidence from Michael Cohen about the most dangerous problem President Trump faces over his efforts to interfere with investigations of his ties to Russia.
Trump’s convicted former personal lawyer has spent four out of the last eight days testifying to Congress and he told the House Oversight Committee last week in a bombshell public hearing that the President’s personal attorney edited his statements to the Senate in 2017, to whom he pled guilty to lying to last year.
Now, Cohen has provided the House Intelligence Committee with evidence implicating Ivanka Trump’s legal counsel and the President’s new personal attorney. CNN reports:
Michael Cohen on Wednesday provided the House Intelligence Committee with new documents showing edits to the false written statement he delivered to Congress in 2017 about the Trump Organization’s pursuit of the Trump Tower Moscow project into the 2016 campaign season, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The documents Cohen provided are intended to further explain his public testimony last week, in which Cohen said that President Donald Trump’s then-personal lawyer Jay Sekulow made changes to his statement to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and that it was reviewed ahead of time by lawyers like Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the President’s daughter and son-in-law who are both White House advisers.
The crime of subornation of perjury is committed when one person encourages another to testify falsely, and it’s so serious that even Trump’s new Attorney General William Barr testified to the Senate that it would be a crime if the President did that.
Cohen attorney Lanny Davis tells @jaketapper Cohen authored false line in 2017 testimony claiming discussions about Trump Tower Moscow ended in January 2016.
Trump attorneys did sign off on that document with false statement. But if they knew it to be false is another question https://t.co/IaSriX9u2t
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 6, 2019
Both attorneys have denied editing Michael Cohen’s statement to the media.
Ivanka Trump’s attorney Abbe Lowell, who also represents her husband and fellow White House
senior advisor partner-in-nepotism Jared Kushner, already put out a statement this week throwing his clients under the bus over their improperly granted security clearances.
The reason it’s such a hot button issue if either attorney did edit Cohen’s statement with lies, is that lawyers act as agents of their clients which makes them essentially an extension of the person they’re representing. The attorney-client privilege which protects their clients’ secrets from being exposed in public testimony does not apply in the case of crime or fraud.
Last week, Michael Cohen told the House Oversight panel last week that Trump’s lawyers edited his previously false statements to Congress in his prepared testimony, and promised to deliver documents with proof, and it appears that he has made good on his word.
If Michael Cohen did, in fact, provide Microsoft Word documents using the “track changes” feature and it leads to a criminal conviction for suborning perjury, it will be part of a developing pattern of Trump’s associates being caught committing crimes by the top word processing program’s useful feature.
Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort got indicted and convicted of mortgage fraud after trading Word documents with his deputy, the cooperating witness Rick Gates.
The Russian government’s emissary Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was the star attraction at the infamous Trump Tower election-time meeting where Don Jr. sought dirt on Hillary Clinton, got indicted earlier this year based on her use of track changes in Word documents which showed her colluding with Putin’s prosecutor-general to obstruct justice in the Prevezon money laundering case.
Microsoft probably didn’t have forensic evidence in mind when it created the track changes feature, but Donald Trump and his associates are rapidly repurposing the writing software into a goldmine for federal prosecutors.
If Cohen’s evidence shows that one or both lawyers edited key parts of his testimony about the Trump Moscow project, then it could become the cornerstone of an impeachable offense against President Trump for suborning perjury or criminal charges against Ivanka Trump.
Original reporting by Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb at CNN.