Sunday, 16 June, 2019

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to testify in front of Congress

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen will testify publicly before Congress ahead of entering prison Michael Cohen President Trump's former lawyer leaves federal court after his sentencing in Manhattan last month
Pablo Mccormick | 11 January, 2019, 06:17

President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will testify publicly before a House committee next month in a hearing that could serve as the opening salvo of a promised Democratic effort to scrutinize Trump, his conflicts of interest and his ties to Russian Federation.

Cohen once said he would take a bullet for Trump, who called his former close confidante a "Rat" on Twitter in mid-December.

He said he accepted the invitation "in furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers".

Cohen said Thursday in a statement that he looks forward to having a platform to give a "full and credible account of the events which have transpired".

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Cohen's testimony will come one month before the start of a three-year prison term, which he received for lying to Congress, tax crimes, and campaign finance violations resulting, he says, from his duty to cover up Trump's "dirty deeds". Cohen has already pleaded guilty to previously making false statements to Congress, in 2017 to a Senate intelligence committee about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The public hearing is scheduled for February 7, 2019.

But because he pleaded guilty he was never cross-examined on details of his dealings with Mr Trump. 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".

Trump told reporters in Texas on Thursday that he's "not anxious about it at all".

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"We don't want to do anything to interfere with the Mueller investigation - absolutely nothing", Cummings said.

As Trump's longtime lawyer and "fixer", Cohen had connections to a number of the key questions surrounding the president, the Mueller probe and now the Democratic congressional investigations. The Maryland representative sent letters sent a pair of letters to both the White House and the Trump Organization earlier this week following an earlier request for documents pertaining to the president's alleged failure to report debts and payments to his personal attorney "to silence women alleging extramarital affairs with the president before the election".

But Schiff added that "it will be necessary, however, for Mr Cohen to answer questions pertaining to the Russian Federation investigation, and we hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future".

The newly installed chairmen of at least two other panels, the Judiciary and Intelligence committees, have said they want to speak with Cohen about his work on behalf of Trump.

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Cohen, who had been the real estate billionaire's right-hand-man and fixer at the Trump Organisation in NY, said at his 12 December sentencing that he spent years covering up for his boss's "dirty deeds". Cohen's appearance in public, before national television cameras, will begin to fulfill that promise, but is likely to only be the first of a string of public testimony that could prove damaging to the president.

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