During Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony on Wednesday, a broad question about any other alleged misdeeds and wrongdoing on the part of Donald Trump prompted the president’s former attorney to cryptically allude to still more lines of inquiry being pursued by federal prosecutors. He made it clear the subject of these inquiries had not been raised during the hearing.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) first asked about the last time that Cohen had been in touch with President Trump or his intermediaries. Cohen said he thought it had been some time in the two months after federal agents raided Cohen’s home in April 2018.
“What did he or his agent communicate to you?” Krishnamoorthi asked.
“This topic is being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York. I’ve been asked by them not to discuss it or talk about these issues,” Cohen replied.
The Congress member then broadened his question: “Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act regarding Donald Trump we haven’t discussed today?”
“Yes,” Cohen said. “Those are part of the investigation currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.”
@CongressmanRaja "Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act regarding Donald Trump we haven't discussed today?"— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
COHEN: "Yes... and those are part of the investigation being looked at by the Southern District of New York." pic.twitter.com/Ckck27CSQH
The revelation is not necessarily a shock, nor can we be sure to what Cohen was alluding, given the restrictions placed on him by federal prosecutors. We already knew prosecutors in the Southern District were exploring the hush money payments that Cohen arranged and that they had entered into a nonprosecution agreement with American Media, Inc. (owner of the National Enquirer) in that investigation and that the company acknowledged it acted “in concert” with Trump’s campaign, as Vox’s Andrew Prokop previously reported.
We also knew that Cohen was sharing information with Southern District attorneys about Trump’s inauguration. As Vox’s Amanda Sakuma reported last week:
The president’s inaugural committee is currently under criminal investigation by the SDNY for an alleged pay-to-play scheme that allowed top donors to buy access to — and possibly influence — the incoming Trump administration. The Trump inauguration raised an astonishing $107 million — more than double what President Barack Obama collected as a record high eight years earlier. And there remain several open-ended questions as to where that money came from and what happened to it.
Cohen, who worked for the Trump organization for more than a decade, was a key fundraiser for the inaugural event. And as Vox’s Andrew Prokop wrote of the broad investigation into the Trump inauguration, it’s been unclear until now whether Cohen was cooperating with investigators or was the target himself.
Federal prosecutors in New York first launched the probe in December thanks in part to materials recovered during the FBI raids on Cohen’s residence and office last year.
So it’s hard to know exactly what to make of Cohen’s comments or how much they add to the story. But they are nonetheless a potent reminder that there is still much we don’t know about the various investigations into Trump or where they might lead.