- Michael Cohen will voluntarily testify before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session on February 8.
- He will also tentatively move forward with previously-scheduled public testimony before the House Oversight Committee on February 7.
- Last week, Cohen was subpoenaed to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 12.
- Cohen has pleaded guilty in two separate federal criminal probes and has implicated President Donald Trump in criminal activity since agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors last year.
- He is due to report for a 3-year prison sentence on March 6.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced Monday that Michael Cohen had voluntarily agreed to testify before the panel in a closed door session on February 8.
Cohen’s new lawyer, Michael Monico, also said Cohen has tentatively agreed to move forward with a previously scheduled public testimony before the House Oversight Committee. The date has not been finalised but Cohen is in discussions to appear before the panel on February 7, CNN reported.
Cohen initially agreed to voluntarily appear, but he announced last week that he would indefinitely postpone his testimony in light of what he described as “ongoing threats” against his family by President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Cohen has also been subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session, which is set to take place on February 12.
Cohen is Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer who pleaded guilty in two separate federal criminal investigations. The first is a Manhattan US attorney’s office investigation into his and Trump’s business dealings before the 2016 election, in which Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.
The second is the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, led by the special counsel Robert Mueller. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress about various aspects of the Trump Tower Moscow deal when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee in 2017. He was sentenced to three years and is due to report to prison on March 6.
“I want to thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to appear voluntarily before the Committee for closed testimony on February 8, 2019,” Schiff said in a statement Monday. “Mr. Cohen has relayed to the Committee his legitimate concerns for his safety as well as that of his family, which have been fuelled by improper comments made by the President and his lawyer.”
Schiff was likely referring to Trump’s and Rudy Giuliani’s suggestions that prosecutors look into Cohen’s father-in-law in retaliation for Cohen’s decision to publicly testify before the House Oversight Committee.
“As I’ve previously stated with my colleagues, [House Oversight Committee Chairman] Elijah Cummings and [House Judiciary Committee Chairman] Jerrold Nadler, efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members, or prevent them from testifying before Congress are tactics we expect from organised crime, not the White House,” Schiff said, adding that the committee will continue to work with Cohen and law enforcement to protect him and his family.
In a court filing last year, prosecutors said Cohen misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when he said negotiations for the Trump Tower Moscow deal ended in January 2016 and that he did not discuss it extensively with Trump Organisation executives.
In fact, Cohen “discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project” with Trump “on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed” to the Senate Intelligence Committee and “he briefed family members” of Trump within the Trump Organisation about it.
They added that Cohen admitted to pursuing the deal with Sater as late as June 2016, after Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Prosecutors also said in their charging document that Cohen made additional false statements to the House Intelligence Committee when he first testified before the panel in 2017.
A Democratic aide told INSIDER that lawmakers plan to “extensively question” Cohen about the specifics of the Trump Tower Moscow deal, as well as address inconsistencies in his prior testimony, when he appears before the intel committee behind closed doors on February 8. His testimony before the House Oversight Committee, meanwhile, will focus on other topics because it is in a public setting.
Cohen initially struck a defiant tone when he learned he was a subject of interest in the Mueller probe and the Manhattan US attorney’s office investigation. But Cohen reportedly felt betrayed after Trump and other White House personnel started distancing themselves from him following an FBI raid of his property. Soon after, he began cooperating with prosecutors, citing a duty to country and his family.
Cohen has since implicated Trump in criminal activity related to campaign finance violations made in the run-up to the 2016 election. His lawyers also said in a sentencing memo that Cohen was “in close and regular contact” with White House staff and Trump’s legal team as he was drafting the false testimony he gave to Congress.
Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News also published a disputed and controversial report alleging that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress. Democratic lawmakers have signalled that they intend to ask Cohen about the story when he testifies again.
At first, Trump defended Cohen when news of the FBI’s raid first surfaced last year. But the president soon adopted a different tone and stepped back from shielding his longtime lawyer.
When Cohen indicated that he would plead guilty and cooperate, Trump shifted gears and began lobbing attacks at Cohen and his credibility, calling him a “rat” and suggesting he was weak for deciding to “break.”
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