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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Michael Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis told Axios that Cohen and his legal team "blame ourselves, not anybody else," for not clearly explaining what he called the "two Michael Cohens."

Why it matters: Cohen attorney‘s Michael Monico sent a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings Tuesday night clarifying that Cohen never asked President Trump to grant him a pardon, despite Trump tweeting that Cohen had "directly asked." The letter comes amid questions whether Cohen lied again to Congress.

Davis distinguished between the Cohen who consistently lied for Trump vs. the one who exited a joint defense agreement with the president's lawyers and turned against Trump last June. But he maintained that Cohen "never directly asked Donald Trump for a pardon. That's a true statement."

"He was at the time part of a joint defense agreement, what some people call a liars' club … he sent one of his lawyers over to talk to Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani to discuss the option [of a pardon] because it was being dangled out of the water like a piece of bait by Mr. Trump … and he explored that option. But that was the Michael Cohen who is lying."
— Lanny Davis, attorney for Michael Cohen
  • Davis said the "second Michael Cohen," who called him last year and told him that he was "tired of lying for Donald Trump," and after that he never explored a pardon.
  • The letter from Monico also states: "In retrospect, while the sentence could have been clearer regarding the time frames, the sentence is true, and Mr. Cohen stands by his statement."

The bottom line: There is nothing illegal about a subject in a criminal investigation seeking a presidential pardon. The issue is whether Cohen, who will begin a three year prison sentence in May, lied to Congress when said he had "never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon" from Trump.

  • Additionally, offering the prospect of a presidential pardon to discourage someone from assisting investigators could also be seen as witness tampering or obstruction of justice.

Editor's note: An earlier version of Davis' quote included the phrase, "When Mr. Cohen stopped, and decided he wanted to get out of the club..."

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.