Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been quite clearly trying to intimidate Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, in shockingly public ways. From Trump using Twitter to drop hints about the source of Cohen’s family money (organized crime), to calling in to Fox News to suggest the network investigate Cohen’s father-in-law, to Giuliani appearing on CNN to do the same, there has been an effort to deflect from Trump’s criminal behavior and place the spotlight on Cohen’s family and their associations. Here is a snippet of the accusations Giuliani made on CNN, which apparently prompted Cohen to delay his scheduled Feb. 7 testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
“His father-in-law has millions and millions. I’m telling you, he comes from the Ukraine. This reason that is important is, he may have ties to something called organized crime.”
After Cohen said he will delay his testimony, his attorney, Lanny Davis, appeared on Good Morning America to ask Congress to do its constitutional duty to censure the president for witness intimidation and obstruction of justice, and furthermore, to launch a federal criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani for witness tampering.
“The last thing that Michael Cohen fears are partisan-hack questions from Republicans. We expect that. Let me be very clear. The House of Representatives now has an obligation, a resolution of censure, when the president of the United States indisputably intimidates and obstructs justice to prevent a witness from testifying, is in order. So is a federal, criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani for witness tampering. Calling out a man’s father-in-law and wife in order to intimidate the witness is not fair game.”
Michael Cohen's lawyer blasts Rudy Giuliani, accuses him of "witness tampering."
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 24, 2019
Here is the full transcript of the conversation (via CNN) referenced by Davis, in which Giuliani is quite clearly using this network television appearance to intimidate Cohen and his family.
TAPPER: OK. But let me ask you a question.
You’re talking about these threats that the president did not commit, and as to why that would be inappropriate, but the president has not done that.
The president is repeatedly calling publicly, on Judge Jeanine’s show, on Twitter, he is repeatedly calling for an investigation into Michael Cohen’s father-in-law ahead of Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress.
By your own definition, isn’t that obstruction…
GIULIANI: No, it’s defending himself.
TAPPER: … or attempting to intimidate a witness?
GIULIANI: No. No.
Now, if you — if you made that obstruction, I can’t defend anybody.
TAPPER: To say…
GIULIANI: You’re telling me…
TAPPER: … this guy is testifying against me, his father-in-law should be…
(CROSSTALK) GIULIANI: No, wait, now. Wait, wait. Jake, Jake, we are so — we are so distorting the system of justice just to get Donald Trump, it’s going to hurt us so much.
TAPPER: So, it’s OK to go after the father-in-law?
GIULIANI: Now — now, of course it is, if the father-in-law is a criminal.
And the Southern District of New York, in the plea, wanted him to go to jail and said he’s lying. They don’t buy the special counsel’s approach. They say he’s lying because he’s holding back information that is far more damaging than the lies that he is sharing with them now.
Now, what is that information about?
GIULIANI: It’s about his father-in-law. We talked about Ukrainians. His father-in-law is a Ukrainian.
TAPPER: That’s not a crime.
GIULIANI: His father-in-law has millions and millions — of course it’s not. I’m telling you, he comes from the Ukraine.
This reason that is important is, he may have ties to something called organized crime.
TAPPER: Because he’s Ukrainian?
GIULIANI: Michael Cohen is refusing — well, there’s an organized crime group in Ukraine, organized crime group in Russia.
TAPPER: Organized crime everywhere, organized crime in Brooklyn, organized crime in the Bronx.
I mean, you know, that — that — I think that’s making the leap.
GIULIANI: Oh, well, that’s OK. He can have ties to organized crime. They can have bank fraud. That’s just fine.
When somebody testifies against your client, you go out, and you look at what’s wrong with them. Why are they doing it, if they’re not telling the truth?
GIULIANI: He’s not — he’s doing it because he’s afraid to testify against his father-in-law, because the repercussions for that will be far worse than the repercussions for lying here…
TAPPER: I think…
GIULIANI: … because now he gets applauded in New York, where the crazy anti-Trumpers applaud for him.
TAPPER: So, I think…
GIULIANI: He goes and testifies — he goes and testifies against some people — let me finish.
GIULIANI: He goes and testifies against some people that are possibly in organized crime, they ain’t going to be applauding for him when he goes into a restaurant in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, believe me.
TAPPER: I think…
GIULIANI: I did this for 15 years of my life.
TAPPER: I think…
GIULIANI: This guy is lying. It’s disgraceful…
GIULIANI: … that you’re relying on Cohen. It’s disgraceful that the Democrats in Congress…
TAPPER: I’m not relying on — I’m not relying on Cohen.
GIULIANI: … would put a liar like — and BuzzFeed got in trouble yesterday…
TAPPER: I’m not relying on Cohen for anything.
GIULIANI: … because they relied on Michael Cohen.
Well, don’t. Don’t.
TAPPER: I’m just questioning whether it’s appropriate for the president to single out a private citizen…
GIULIANI: It is…
TAPPER: … whose son-in-law…
GIULIANI: … to defend him…
TAPPER: OK. Well, you…
GIULIANI: He’s not a private citizen. He’s a private citizen lying about him, trying to get him impeached.
TAPPER: No, the father — I’m talking about the father-in-law.
GIULIANI: And I’m defending him.
TAPPER: I’m talking about the father-in-law.
GIULIANI: That’s a — that’s — the father-in-law, we happen to know — and just go read the Southern District report.
GIULIANI: The man was involved in criminal activity with Michael Cohen.
TAPPER: That’s all…
GIULIANI: And Michael Cohen is withholding it, because to testify about that would be very dangerous to the father-in-law and Michael Cohen.
GIULIANI: And, instead, he’s going after the president, which the special counsel and all the liberals are applauding him for.
TAPPER: Mayor Giuliani…
GIULIANI: That’s what is going on. That is a defense…
TAPPER: … thank you for your time.