Michael Cohen to testify before House Oversight Committee
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s onetime personal attorney, is set to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7, almost exactly one month before he must report to prison to begin serving time for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about Trump’spast business dealings in Russia.
In a statement, Cohen said he accepted the invitation to appear from Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s chairman, “[i]n furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers.”
Cohen added: “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.”
Cummings said the committee was “in the process of consulting with Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller’s office” to ensure that Cohen’s scheduled testimony would not interfere with the ongoing investigation into interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he welcomed Cohen’s agreement to testify, but added it would be “necessary … for Mr. Cohen to answer questions pertaining to the Russia investigation, and we hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future.”
A federal judge last month sentenced Cohen to three years in prison, following a dramatic hearing at which Cohen said he felt it was his duty to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds.” Cohen was ordered to report to prison sometime before March 6.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to breaking campaign-finance laws by helping orchestrate payments to silence former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who said they had sexual encounters with Trump while he was married. Prosecutors have said Cohen did so at Trump’s direction.
Cohen’s lawyers had requested a lighter sentence, citing their client’s cooperation with the special counsel and prosecutors looking into campaign finance violations in New York. 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.”
Trump has lashed out at Cohen over his cooperation with prosecutors, recently saying Cohen “lied” and deserved to “serve a full and complete sentence.” Trump told reporters in McAllen, Texas, on Thursday that he was “not worried” about Cohen’s testimony “at all.”
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani described Cohen to Fox News as “a thoroughly discredited liar,” and said he could not imagine why Cummings would want to hear from Cohen. Giuliani added that while he expected House Democrats to call Cohen to testify, he thought they would wait until Mueller had completed his report.
When asked about the issue of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Giuliani told Fox News that “Cohen doesn’t know a damn thing about collusion” and added there was “no evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors” in anything that Mueller has made public so far.
Alex Pappas and John Roberts contributed to this report.