President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen will have to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an open session after the committee’s leaders said he broke an agreement not to speak to the media prior to his interview.
Cohen released a prepared statement Tuesday denying he colluded with Russia and claiming that a Trump Tower Moscow project he pursued during the election was “solely a real estate deal and nothing more.” He added that he “never saw anything — not a hint of anything — that demonstrated [Trump’s] involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee canceled its private interview with Cohen that had been scheduled for Tuesday morning. Its chairman and ranking member released a statement saying the committee would subpoena Cohen to appear in an open session at a later date.
“We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today’s interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with Committee staff, in spite of the Committee’s requests that he refrain from public comment,” said the statement from Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner.
They added: “As a result, we declined to move forward with today’s interview and will reschedule Mr. Cohen’s appearance before the Committee in open session at a date in the near future. The Committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith with the Senate.”
Cohen referred questions to his attorney, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cohen came under renewed scrutiny late last month when The Washington Post reported that he had pursued a Trump Tower Moscow project with Felix Sater, a Russia-born businessman and longtime Trump Organisation adviser.
The Post then disclosed an email Cohen sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman in January 2016 asking for his “assistance” with the massive real-estate project.
“Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower – Moscow project in Moscow City,” Cohen wrote Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, according to the emails submitted to the congressional intelligence committees and read to the Post.
Sater had written to Cohen a few months earlier, in November 2015, saying that he could get “Putin’s team to buy in” to the Trump Tower Moscow proposal, which he said would help Trump get elected.
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote to Cohen, according to emails obtained by The New York Times. ” I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”
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