Michael Cohen Grilled Over Possible Donald Trump Pardon in Private House and Senate Intelligence Committee Sessions

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, arrives for a closed hearing of the House Intelligence Committee at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 28, 2019. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been asked by members of Congress, in private, if he was ever involved in discussions about a possible pardon.

The Washington Post reported Cohen was quizzed by lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees over any discussions he may have been involved in concerning a potential pardon. The line of inquiry could lead to evidence of obstruction of justice, anonymous sources told The Post.

Individuals familiar with the matter said the committees asked Cohen if he had ever discussed a possible pardon, as well as when and with whom those conversations had been. Cohen has said publicly that he has never sought nor would he accept a pardon from the president. The sources said, again on condition of anonymity, that it appears Cohen's knowledge on the issues of a potential pardon extends beyond his public statements.

It remains unclear beyond those public statements why lawmakers might be interested in this particular line of questioning with Cohen. However, details surrounding a pardon discussion could suggest officials sought to persuade the president's former fixer to not cooperate with law enforcement.

Cohen's own lawyer, Lanny Davis, described his client's private testimony as "game-changing" and "pretty explosive." While he declined to comment further, Davis said new information revealed during the closed sessions concerned "lying and obstruction of evidence."

Cohen's testimony before Congress earlier this week, in which he called the president a racist and a conman, has been compared to evidence given to the Watergate Committee. Cohen, who is due to return to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to bank and tax fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.

Because of his past form, Republican lawmakers, in particular, have complained about Cohen's reliability. Representatives Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows wrote to the Attorney General William Barr earlier this week asking him to investigate whether or not Cohen had perjured himself when he told the House's Oversight Committee he never sought to work in the Trump White House.

Trump has been unequivocal in his belief that Cohen was lying to Congress. He wrote in a Tweet Friday that his former personal lawyer had "committed perjury on a scale not seen before." The president also questioned, without supporting evidence, whether Cohen was being paid by former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in relation to his testimony.