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House Panel Investigates Obstruction Claims Against Trump Lawyers



Mr. Cohen also said that Mr. Sekulow told him that the details of an effort to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia were “not relevant and should not be included in his statement to Congress,” the report said. Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sekulow spoke frequently before Mr. Cohen submitted his false statement, and Mr. Cohen said Mr. Sekulow told him he should not elaborate because the Moscow project had not progressed.

Other lawyers in the joint defense agreement also would have had access to the statement before its delivery. Vanity Fair later published the contents of emails between Mr. Cohen and his lawyer at the time, Stephen Ryan, in which Mr. Ryan detailed changes to the statement he said were requested by Mr. Lowell. Mr. Ryan also included what he said were edited drafts of the statement. The Times also reviewed the emails, which show Mr. Lowell asking that the statement assert that Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, had essentially no knowledge of the proposal. Mr. Cohen later told Congress that he had, in fact, briefed Mr. Trump’s children regularly on his progress.

The special counsel assigned Mr. Cohen’s claims on the false statement at least some credibility in his 448-page report, but he appeared to pass on examining them fully. He did not, for instance, try to compel Mr. Sekulow to speak with investigators after he declined to do so voluntarily and did not obtain all draft copies of the statement. Nor is there evidence that he asked to interview other lawyers from the joint defense agreement.

People close to Mr. Trump have said in the past that because Mr. Cohen was the primary person handling a possible Trump Tower deal in Moscow, no one else was privy to the details of conversations that he had, and so lawyers representing others in the Trump orbit did not know enough to challenge his account. The lawyers have also argued that congressional officials are seeking to get people to violate the confines of a joint defense agreement.

Mr. Schiff is taking a more aggressive approach and has argued that the committee is not obligated to honor attorney-client privilege, particularly if there is evidence that the lawyers aided a crime.

Mr. Cohen’s accusation about a possible pardon is murkier, and had also come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in New York.

Essentially, Mr. Cohen has claimed that in April 2018, after the F.B.I. raided his home and office, lawyers connected to Mr. Trump held out the possibility of a presidential pardon if he remained loyal to members of the joint defense agreement.

But the lawyers involved, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Robert J. Costello, have vigorously denied this account, saying that Mr. Giuliani said at the time that the president was then unwilling to discuss pardons.

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