Schiff rejects Cohen bid for help delaying prison term
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff is signaling he has no intention of helping Michael Cohen’s quest to delay his upcoming three-year prison sentence after attorneys for President Donald Trump’s former fixer informed lawmakers he had just gained access to troves of new records and could provide even more information to investigators.
“I don’t get involved in sentencing matters as a practice. I never have in Congress and that’s been my policy,” Schiff told CNN on Monday when asked about Cohen’s request.
Cohen’s attorneys wrote last week to Democratic leaders of the committees where he testified in February and March, saying the President’s former personal attorney needs to be “readily accessible and immediately available” to Congress in part because he was able to recently access a hard drive with 14 million files, consisting of emails, voice recordings and other information.
Cohen’s lawyers asked lawmakers to write letters outlining his cooperation during his public and private testimony as well as with the “substantial trove of new information,” something the attorneys could use to lobby authorities in the Southern District of New York for a delayed sentence.
Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, told CNN on Monday that his client is asking lawmakers only to send letters to Cohen’s attorneys stating his cooperation, adding that he is not asking the members of Congress to communicate with the courts.
Davis notes the letter “did not ask members of Congress to communicate with the court or prosecutors nor imply any quid pro quo regarding Mr. Cohen’s willingness to cooperate.”
“There is no doubt that Mr. Cohen’s testimony, both public and private, has contributed substantially, with documents and other evidence, to triggering additional areas for investigation by law enforcement authorities and Congress,” says the letter from Cohen’s attorneys to lawmakers.
Lawmakers who received the Cohen request include House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, who has yet to say whether he would agree to help.
Cohen is scheduled to start his sentence on May 6 after he pleaded guilty to financial crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.
His lawyers wrote in last week’s letter that he had gained access only recently to the hard drive with millions of files that could be helpful to investigators. They also argued that Cohen’s congressional testimony had demonstrated his cooperation both with congressional probes and the criminal investigations into Trump and his businesses.
In his testimony earlier this year, Cohen accused his former client, Trump, of financial fraud and directing hush-money payments to women alleging affairs.
“We hope that this memorandum demonstrates that Mr. Cohen needs to be readily accessible and immediately available to provide ongoing assistance to Congress in order for it to fulfill its executive branch oversight responsibilities,” the letter states. “However, with 30 days left before he surrenders to prison, time is no longer a luxury he is capable of.”
Schiff told CNN on Monday that he was nevertheless interested in receiving any new information from Cohen, regardless of his prison sentence.
“We continue to encourage Mr. Cohen to provide us any materials that he has that are relevant to our investigation,” Schiff said. “We will continue to do so and hope that he has additional information to offer.”