Cohen, ex-Trump lawyer, to testify publicly before Congress

Remigio Civitarese
Gennaio 11, 2019

The hearing marks the latest step in Cohen's transformation from a trusted legal adviser to the president to a public antagonist who has cooperated extensively against him.

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.

Cohen said in a statement: "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".

Cohen has admitted to offering "hush-money" to two women regarding their affairs with Donald Trump, paying porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in exchange for their silence regarding their alleged sexual affairs with the president. But federal prosecutors recommended a "substantial term of imprisonment" for Cohen, saying he "repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends" and claiming that his cooperation with Mueller was "overstated".

"I thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily", said Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, in a statement.

Regardless of what Cohen says, though, his testimony will surely result in a presidential temper tantrum from his one-time mentor, who has called Cohen a "weak person", and recommended that people not hire him as their lawyer.

Mueller's court filings revealed that Cohen had spoken to a Russian in 2015 who had offered "political synergy" with the Trump campaign while discussing Trump Tower Moscow.

Cohen has also been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation, and in November pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Russian Federation related matters.

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

Others in Trump's personal orbit are also facing scrutiny, and House Democrats, having retaken the majority earlier this month, now have subpoena power.

Democratic lawmakers have wanted to call Cohen back to Capitol Hill since the special counsel determined Cohen lied during his previous testimony - lies that formed at least part of the foundation of a controversial investigative report that House Intelligecne Committee Republicans released a year ago, determining that there was no evidence of links between Trump's campaign and Russian officials.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller for many months has been investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 USA presidential election, possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign and potential obstruction of justice. Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, the committee's chairman, said in a statement on Thursday that he understands "Mr. Cohen has expressed an interest in telling his personal story in open session" as well.

"We hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future", Schiff said.

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