Trump says ex-lawyer Cohen asked him for a pardon, but he declined

FILE PHOTO: Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after testifying before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has since turned against him and pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, had asked him directly for a pardon but was rejected.

“Bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen said under sworn testimony that he never asked for a Pardon. His lawyers totally contradicted him. He lied!,” Trump tweeted. “Additionally, he directly asked me for a pardon. I said NO.”

Cohen responded by calling Trump’s assertions lies.

“Just another set of lies by @POTUS @realdonaldtrump,” he wrote in a tweet.

Cohen is due to begin serving a three-year prison sentence on May 6 for lying to Congress last year about efforts to build a Trump tower in Moscow, along with other charges.

Trump in December called Cohen a “rat” for cooperating with prosecutors and has said he should go to prison.

In public testimony last week before a House of Representatives panel, Cohen called Trump, his employer for more than 10 years, a “racist,” “conman” and “cheat.”

Cohen has said he worked on the Moscow project for nearly a year while Trump was running for president, and acted at Trump’s direction to break campaign-finance laws by arranging “hush money” payments to women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump.

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Susan Heavey and Jonathan Oatis