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Cohen to testify publicly before Congress

Cohen to testify publicly before Congress

President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has agreed to voluntarily testify before the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee next month, the Democratic chairman of the panel announced Thursday.
“I thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily,” Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement.
“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. The Committee will announce additional information in the coming weeks.”
The announcement of the hearing represents the first major power play by Democrats to use their newfound majority in the House to drill down on investigations into the president.
Cohen is scheduled to testify before the committee on Feb. 7 in public, promising major fireworks as Democrats question him on the Russia investigation and his admissions about hush-money payments to women alleging affairs with the president.
In his own statement, Cohen said he looks 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.”
Earlier this year, Cohen pleaded guilty to numerous federal charges, including one count of lying to Congress in connection with Robert Mueller’s sprawling Russia investigation. Cohen has been cooperating with Mueller’s team and provided him useful information related to the Trump Organization and his contacts with the White House, according to the special counsel.
Cohen also pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations stemming from an effort to payoff women who alleged affairs with Trump, admitting it was done to prevent negative information from surfacing during the election. Cohen also implicated Trump in the scheme in a dramatic moment that capped the end of his once close relationship with the president.
Trump has denied directing Cohen to break the law and suggested the payments did not amount to campaign finance violations. The president has also described Cohen as a “rat” willing to lie to prosecutors in order to get a lighter prison sentence.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail last month by a federal judge in Manhattan and is expected to report to federal prison in early March.
Other congressional committees have also expressed an interest in questioning Cohen in the wake of his guilty pleas.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday that he welcomed Cohen’s public testimony before the Oversight panel but also said it would be “necessary” to have Cohen appear behind closed doors as his committee probes Russian interference.
“We hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future,” Schiff said.
Intelligence Committee Republicans ended the investigation abruptly last year amid complaints from Democrats, who said it had been completed prematurely.
“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 7th before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,” Cohen said in a statement released through his attorney.
“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.”