House Republicans issue criminal referral for Michael Cohen
Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen is facing a criminal referral sent by two top House Republicans on Tuesday, who claim he lied to Congress in 2019.
Why it matters: It's the latest example of Trump loyalists in the House using their congressional power to go after the former president's enemies as he faces dozens of felony charges.
- Criminal referrals are symbolic, as it's left to prosecutors to file criminal charges.
Driving the news: Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and House Intelligence Chair Michael Turner (R-Ohio) wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday to refer evidence of Cohen's alleged perjury and false statements under oath.
- "The Biden Justice Department must take off its partisan blinders and investigate disgraced fraudster and disbarred attorney Michael Cohen, a felon previously convicted for lying to Congress, who just admitted to lying again to Congress," Stefanik said in a statement.
Zoom in: Cohen was called last month as a key witness in the New York civil fraud trial over a $250 million lawsuit that alleges that Trump, his eldest children and the Trump Organization committed years of financial fraud.
- The House Republicans said that when Cohen appeared in court last month, he "admitted that the testimony he gave before the [Intelligence] Committee in 2019 was knowingly and intentionally false."
- Cohen responded "yes" to a question about whether he lied under oath in a 2019 Congressional testimony by denying that Trump told him to inflate numbers on the former president's personal financial statements.
Between the lines: Cohen said later that Trump did not specifically ask him to change financial statements, but the former president "speaks like a mob boss, and ... tells you what he wants without specifically telling you."
A DOJ spokesperson confirmed receipt of the letter, but declined to comment further.
The big picture: This is not the first time House Republicans have referred Cohen to the DOJ for alleged perjury.
- In 2019, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) also demanded the DOJ investigate Cohen for perjury during the same congressional testimony — but for claiming he didn't seek a job in Trump's White House and denying he committed bank fraud.