Friday, 18 January, 2019

Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen to testify before Congress in February

Michael Cohen President Trump's former lawyer departs United States Federal Court under heavy security after being sentenced to three years in prison in New York New York on Dec. 12 2018 Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to testify in public before Congress
Melinda Barton | 11 January, 2019, 06:13

President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen said on Thursday he had agreed to testify publicly before a congressional panel on February 7, as U.S. House of Representatives Democrats began kicking off numerous investigations of Trump, his business interests and his administration.

Riopelle told CBC News the hearing will be a full airing of the hush money payments handled by Cohen and other, potential revelations about Trump's businesses.

In a statement to CNN, Cohen said he agreed to testify "in furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers".

The chairman of the oversight panel, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said the committee is consulting with Mueller's office about the testimony.

He is a pivotal figure in investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, and by federal prosecutors in NY into campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments to two women who say they had sex with Mr Trump. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to an additional charge - lying to Congress about how long negotiations for a Trump Tower project in Moscow went on in 2016.

Cohen's hearing is set for February 7, according to the committee's public schedule.

He has also contended that the deals were private and unrelated to the campaign, insisting that if anything illegal occurred, it was Cohen's responsibility. Cohen testified that Trump had instructed him to make the payment during the 2016 presidential campaign and that he had obeyed out of "blind loyalty".

Cohen is a pivotal figure in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. Based on the description in the court documents, Individual 1 appears to be President Trump. He told reporters on Thursday that "there will be limitations" on the topics covered in Cohen's testimony.

Cohen was a longtime lawyer for President Donald Trump, both before and after Trump ran for office.

Cummings has signalled that his committee is more interested in investigating the president's involvement in the campaign violations to which Cohen pleaded guilty a year ago.

It's not yet clear whether Cohen will agree to speak to any other committees.

The House Intelligence Committee has been seeking a closed-door session with Cohen to discuss Russia-related matters.

"The first move by House Democrats that is certain to draw the ire of President Trump". Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Intelligence Committee chairman, said in an interview last week that he was in touch with Cohen's lawyer about a possible appearance.

Trump has lashed out at Cohen over his cooperation with prosecutors, recently saying Cohen "lied" and deserved to "serve a full and complete sentence". If he had not, House Democrats would have likely used their new subpoena power.