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Michael Cohen's attorney sends letter clarifying pardon testimony

14 March 2019

The campaign finance case in NY mentioned by Nadler involves hush money payments made to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, just before the 2016 election.

Nadler also said Whitaker told the lawmakers that he was involved in conversations about U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman's recusal from the Cohen investigation in the Southern District of NY and about whether its campaign finance case involving hush money payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump had gone too far.

Nadler also claimed that Whitaker "did not deny" that Trump called Whitaker to discuss Cohen's case and personnel decisions surrounding it, as had been reported by the New York Times.

Additionally, a separate source described as "familiar with the emails" said that Trump's legal team was trying to keep Cohen from flipping on the president and "hinting that a pardon could be in the mix at some point". "But it is jaw-dropping that the acting Attorney General blatantly lied to Congress and he was concerned enough about going to prison that he came back a week later to do clean up".

Media outlets have reported that Trump expressed frustration to Whitaker following the release of a court memo last December that implicated the president in a campaign finance crime for directing Cohen to pay off two of his boss's former mistresses. He also disputed Nadler's interpretation of Whitaker's potential discussions about the Southern District.

Nadler's committee is seeking evidence that Trump may have urged Whitaker to put the investigations under the supervision of Berman, a Trump donor and former law partner of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who is recused.

Trump himself challenged that claim.

Cohen's public committee testimony last month "could have been clearer and more complete", Monico wrote in the letter obtained by The Associated Press.

But Collins, a Georgia Republican, contradicted much of Nadler's account.

Collins said that Whitaker suggested the conversations about district attorneys were normal personnel issues, and to characterize those comments otherwise were 'an overreach and a stretch.' Collins added that Whitaker said he hadn't had any conversations with officials in the Southern District of NY. Committee Republicans had no say in determining ground rules for the second meeting.

Whitaker thought the campaign finance angle against Cohen was "specious", according to Republican staff at the meeting.

Nadler said he wasn't sure what the next steps would be after hearing from Whitaker.

Michael Cohen's attorney sends letter clarifying pardon testimony