Cohen Is Set to Testify Before Congress

11 January, 2019, 06:15 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Michael Cohen agrees to testify before Congress after pleading guilty to fraud and deception

US President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen will testify in Congress next month, posing a potential new threat to the president as the Russian Federation collusion investigation increasingly menaces the White House.

Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen.

In a statement, Cohen said he agreed to testify in "furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers".

"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.

Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to two women to help Trump in 2016 in violation of campaign laws, and for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russian Federation. 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.

Cohen's hearing is set for February 7, according to the committee's public schedule.

He pleaded guilty in August in return for a plea deal. Trump has denied directing Cohen to pay women who alleged affairs with Trump.

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MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley argued Thursday after the hearing date was announced that the testimony "is potentially even more important than the Mueller report".

Cohen is also involved in the investigation by federal prosecutors in NY into campaign finance violations related to payments to buy the silence of a porn actress and a former Playboy Playmate who say they had sex with Trump.

Prosecutors from the Southern District of NY, in addition to Cohen's own admissions, said both of the payments were made "at the direction of" then-candidate Trump leading up to the 2016 election to surpress possible damning information from becoming public.

Cummings said the committee has no intention of interfering in ongoing criminal probes.

The Oversight Committee apparently isn't the Capitol Hill body with which Cohen is eager to speak. He is set to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating payments made during the 2016 campaign to silence women who claimed to have had sex with Trump. Mueller's team in court filings wrote that Cohen provided "useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation".

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison. The Democrats promised to use their new majority in the House of Representatives to delve deeper than ever before into Donald Trump's pre-presidential background. 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. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of NY is demanding acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker testify this month, and he's threatening a subpoena if Whitaker won't voluntarily appear.

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