Sunday, 24 March, 2019

Michael Cohen To Testify Publicly In Front Of House Oversight Next Month

Michael Cohen Modal Trigger Michael Cohen Getty Images
Steven Clarke | 11 January, 2019, 01:02

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and "fixer" - who also pleaded guilty to financial crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress - is set to testify before the House Committee of Oversight and Reform on February 7.

Mr Trump has denied the affairs and any involvement in the payments.

The New Yorker, who is to begin a three-year prison sentence in March, is a pivotal figure in investigations by the special counsel Robert Mueller into potential collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, and by federal prosecutors in New York into campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments to two women who say they had sex with Trump.

The session will come just under a month before he is due to turn himself in for a three-year prison sentence.

Cohen said a misplaced sense of loyalty led him to break the law for Trump.

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

When asked about Cohen's testimony on Thursday, Trump said: "I'm not anxious". Cohen also acknowledged in the Mueller investigation that he lied to Congress by saying negotiations over a Trump Tower in Moscow had ended in January 2016 when he actually pursued the project into that June, well into Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, was paid $130,000 and former Playboy model Karen McDougal was paid $150,000 by Cohen.

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"I thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily", he said in a statement about the upcoming hearing". He told reporters on Thursday that "there will be limitations" on the topics covered in Cohen's testimony.

"I want to make clear that we have no interest in inappropriately interfering with any ongoing criminal investigations, and to that end, we are in the process of consulting with Special Counsel Mueller's office", Cohen said in a statement, promising that the panel would announce more information about the hearing in the coming weeks.

Cummings has sent document requests to the White House and the Trump Organization that seek to determine why Trump, who reimbursed Cohen for the hush-money payments, omitted that debt on his public financial disclosure form.

Cohen cooperated with Mueller's investigation after his August guilty plea, and his congressional testimony could thrust some of those still-private details he provided into the public sphere.

The oversight hearing may not be Cohen's only appearance. 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.

The special counsel's questioning of Cohen, one of the president's closest associates over the past decade, has since focused primarily on all aspects of Trump's dealings with Russian Federation - business and otherwise - sources familiar with the matter told ABC News, as well as whether Trump or any of his associates discussed with Cohen the possibility of a pardon.

Schiff wants to restart parts of that probe.

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