Co­hen to tes­tify to Con­gress about his work for Trump

Merced Sun-Star - - News - BY MAG­GIE HABER­MAN AND NI­CHOLAS FANDOS

Michael Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer who im­pli­cated him in a scheme to pay hush money to two women claim­ing to have had af­fairs with him, has agreed to tes­tify be­fore the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee next month and give “a full and cred­i­ble ac­count” of his work for Trump.

Co­hen’s de­ci­sion to ap­pear be­fore the House Over­sight and Re­form Com­mit­tee on Feb. 7 sets the stage for a block­buster pub­lic hear­ing that threat­ens to fur­ther dam­age the pres­i­dent’s im­age and could clar­ify the depth of his le­gal woes. Co­hen, a con­sigliere to Trump when he was a real es­tate developer and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date as well as in­for­mally as pres­i­dent, was privy to the machi­na­tions of Trump’s in­ner cir­cle and key mo­ments un­der scru­tiny by both spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller and fed­eral prose­cu­tors in New York.

He could soon share them on na­tional tele­vi­sion un­der oath.

“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 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 pleaded guilty in fed­eral court in Man­hat­tan in Au­gust to tax fraud, mak­ing false state­ments to a bank and a cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tion. In court, Co­hen said that vi­o­la­tion was the re­sult of pay­ments he made at the be­hest of his for­mer client to a woman who was pre­pared to go pub­lic dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign about an af­fair with Trump years ear­lier.

Since then, Co­hen has spent more than 70 hours with fed­eral prose­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan as well as with Mueller, who is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian ef­forts to in­flu­ence the 2016 elec­tion and Trump’s cam­paign. In Novem­ber, Co­hen pleaded guilty to an ad­di­tional charge – ly­ing to Con­gress about how long ne­go­ti­a­tions for a Trump Tower project in Moscow went on in 2016.

That co­op­er­a­tion has earned him the ire of Trump, who has called Co­hen a “weak per­son.” The pres­i­dent said he did noth­ing wrong in the cam­paign fi­nance charge, and he ac­cused his for­mer lawyer of ly­ing to prose­cu­tors to try to get a re­duced sen­tence. In court fil­ings, prose­cu­tors have not named Trump, re­fer­ring to a “can­di­date for fed­eral of­fice” and “In­di­vid­ual-1.”

It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether prose­cu­tors in New York or for Mueller would ask Co­hen to keep from dis­cussing top­ics still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Nor was it clear when Cum­mings for­mally is­sued an in­vi­ta­tion to tes­tify.

On Thursday, Cum­mings said he was con­sult­ing Mueller’s of­fice to en­sure that he did not hin­der its ef­forts.

“I want to make clear that we have no in­ter­est in in­ap­pro­pri­ately in­ter­fer­ing with any on­go­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions,” he said in a state­ment.

In a De­cem­ber interview, Cum­mings, D-Md., said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he wanted Co­hen to ap­pear be­fore Con­gress as soon as this month and sig­naled that he viewed it as a mat­ter of ex­treme con­se­quence.

“I’m hop­ing that Mr. Co­hen will come be­fore the Con­gress, where he can tell the Amer­i­can pub­lic ex­actly what he has been say­ing to Mueller and oth­ers, with­out in­ter­fer­ing with the Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Cum­mings said.

CHANG W. LEE NYT

Michael Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer, has agreed to tes­tify be­fore the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee on Feb. 7, set­ting the stage for a pub­lic hear­ing that threat­ens to fur­ther dam­age the pres­i­dent’s im­age.

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