Michael Cohen Thinks Donald Trump Issued Secret Pardons for Himself, His Children and Giuliani

Former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen on Sunday expressed his belief that the ex-president had issued pardons for himself, his children and Rudy Giuliani before leaving office.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Trump granted pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70, including Steve Bannon and rapper Kodak Black. But his list did not include preemptive pardons for himself, his family or Giuliani.

Cohen told MSNBC host Alex Witt that he started to ponder why the former president didn't issue pardons for himself, his children or Giuliani after "knowing Donald Trump for well over a decade."

"I started thinking to myself it doesn't really make sense because it's not like Donald Trump, so what am I missing?" he said.

Cohen concluded that Trump could have already pardoned himself, his children and Giuliani in secret, in what he referred to as "pocket pardons."

Michael Cohen in New York City
Michael Cohen, former President Donald Trump's ex-lawyer, on Sunday suggested that Trump may have issued secret pardons before leaving office. David Dee Delgado/Getty

"I kind of think I figured it out," he said. "I think Donald Trump actually has given himself the pardon. I think he also has pocket pardons for his children and for Rudy and it's already stashed somewhere that, if and when they do get indicted and that there's a criminal conviction, federal criminal conviction brought against him, that he already has the pardons in hand."

Cohen explained that he did some research over the weekend into "whether or not the Constitution requires that pardons be disclosed to the American people and to the press."

"I couldn't find anything that said that it does, and that to me is more in line with what George Conway is trying to say about how Donald Trump doesn't care about the law, how he will skirt the law, how he will do anything to benefit himself, and that includes even, you know, doing something like this with a pocket pardon," he added.

Newsweek reached out to Trump representatives for comment.

In 2018, Trump claimed that he had the "absolute right" to issue a self-pardon.

On January 7, Reuters and The New York Times reported that Trump suggested to aides and advisers that he wanted to preemptively pardon himself to protect from future legal action. The reports cited anonymous sources who were unauthorized to speak on record about the matter.

CNN later suggested that Trump had been talked out of issuing pardons for himself and his children.

If he had pardoned himself, Trump would have been the first president in U.S. history to issue a self-pardon, and the move would have once again placed him in unfamiliar legal territory.

The U.S. Constitution sets out that the president may grant pardons for offenses "except in cases of impeachment."

"Such a self-pardon will have limited utility given the sorts of legal challenges that Trump may be forced to confront," David Gray Adler, a U.S. constitutional law scholar, wrote in a CNN article.

"A presidential pardon does not extend to state offences, which means he could still face charges arising from state and city investigations currently being conducted in New York."