Michael Cohen Testified That Trump Lawyer Jay Sekulow Told Him to Give False Info to Congress

Jay Sekulow speaking at an event in Washington, D.C. Image by Gage Skidmore

Michael Cohen, former lawyer and longtime fixer for Donald Trump, told members of Congress earlier this year that Religious Right activist and attorney for the president Jay Sekulow had told him “to falsely claim in a 2017 statement to Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016,” the Washington Post reported Monday night. The Post had reported on Cohen’s claims regarding Sekulow earlier this year; the new story is based on transcripts of Cohen’s testimony that were released on Monday evening.

As Right Wing Watch noted when Cohen’s allegations about Sekulow came up in March, “It’s no surprise that Sekulow has found a place in Trump’s inner circle. Sekulow’s questionable relationship to the truth and his record of using nonprofits to enrich his family are quite Trumpian in nature.”

More from the Post:

House Democrats are now scrutinizing whether Sekulow or other Trump attorneys played a role in shaping Cohen’s 2017 testimony to Congress. Cohen has said he made the false statement to help hide the fact that Trump had potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in a possible Russian project while he was running for president. …

In those depositions, Cohen acknowledged that he used January 2016 as the end date for work on the Moscow project when he originally drafted his 2017 statement to Congress. He said Sekulow urged him to stick to that date, even though he believed Sekulow and others knew that the deal was actually discussed far later than that.

“As Mr. Sekulow had explained, just let’s keep it to that date, which is prior to the lowa caucus,” the opening contest of the White House race, Cohen told the committee.

Sekulow’s attorneys have dismissed Cohen’s statements as “more of the same” from Cohen, who has admitted to lying about the project “out of a sense of obligation” to Trump. Sekulow had previously called Cohen’s allegations “completely false.” As the Post noted, “Cohen is serving three years in prison for lying to Congress, financial crimes and campaign finance violations.”

Last year, Sekulow admitted that he had misled the public with his own public statements about a 2016 Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials had with Russian operatives. He defended himself by saying, “over time, facts develop.”

As Right Wing Watch has documented, Sekulow has a long track record of promoting false right-wing claims and campaigns, including right-wing conspiracy theories about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich and the claim that faithful Muslims cannot truthfully swear loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice has also intensely opposed abortion rights and legal protections for LGBTQ people in the U.S. and other countries.