- Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, said on Thursday that he would testify publicly before the House Oversight Committee on February 7.
- On December 12, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty in August to eight federal crimes, including paying for the silence of two women who say they had affairs with Trump.
- Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 about the Trump Organisation’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.<//li>
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer who was recently sentenced to three years in prison, will testify before the House Oversight Committee in February, in a dramatic early move from Democrats as they prepare to ramp up investigations related to the president.
“In furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers, I have accepted the invitation by Chairman Elijah Cummings to appear publicly on February 7,” Cohen said in a Thursday statement through his lawyer Lanny Davis.
“I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired,” he added.
Cohen’s public testimony could spell trouble for Trump and others in his inner circle, given Cohen’s knowledge of two illegal hush-money payments, the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, and the Trump Organisation’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer” for over a decade, at one point saying he would “take a bullet” for Trump. But in the past few months, as Cohen has publicly reckoned with the weight of the crimes he says he committed at Trump’s behest, he and Trump have turned against each other.
At his sentencing hearing on December 12, Cohen said he acted out of “blind loyalty” to Trump, adding that “time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”
“I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real-estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired,” he said.
When asked by reporters on Thursday whether he was concerned about Cohen’s testimony next month, Trump said, “I’m not worried about it at all, no.”
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign-finance violations in the Southern District of New York. The violations were related to payments to buy the silence of two women, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, who say they had affairs with Trump.
Federal prosecutors said in their sentencing memo for Cohen that he made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, establishing the president as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
On November 30, Cohen struck a deal to plead guilty to one count of lying to Congress in exchange for cooperating with Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
Cohen admitted to falsely describing in his September 2017 congressional testimony when the Trump Organisation ended talks about building a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The sentencing memo also said Cohen provided 70 hours of testimony to the special counsel’s office on a variety of subjects, including the Trump Tower deal, the Trump campaign’s communications with people linked to Russia, and the circumstances of preparing his false congressional testimony.
Cohen’s lawyers said in early December that Cohen had also met with federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and state investigators in New York, as well as cooperated with a separate “open inquiry” conducted by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is also seeking testimony from Cohen before he is due to report to prison in March.
Schiff said on Thursday that it “will be necessary” for Cohen “to answer questions pertaining to the Russia investigation,” adding, “We hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future.”
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