Michael Cohen Agrees to Testify Before Congress Next Month

In this courtroom sketch, Michael Cohen, center, reads a statement in New York federal court on Nov. 29, 2018. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer pleaded guilty in the surprise appearance to lying to Congress about work he did on an aborted project to build a Trump Tower in Russia. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

(CN) – Michael Cohen has agreed to testify before Congress in February, just a month before he is expected to begin serving a federal prison sentence, an adviser for the president’s former fixer said Thursday.

Cohen had indicated his willingness to speak to lawmakers on the day he learned his fate for what a federal judge called a “veritable smorgasbord” of crimes, including a hush-money scheme that implicates President Donald Trump in campaign-finance violations.

Before he reports to prison on March 6 to begin a three-year sentence, Cohen revealed today through his onetime lawyer Lanny Davis that he accepted an invitation to come clean on Feb. 7 before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

“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 said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who chairs that committee, praised Cohen for approaching the committee voluntarily and emphasizing his sensitivity about issues surrounding ongoing criminal investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  

“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,” Cummings said in a statement. “The committee will announce additional information in the coming weeks.”

Mueller had prosecuted Cohen before for lying to Congress two years ago about a Moscow skyscraper deal discussed between Trump and Putin’s inner circles. 

Though Cohen previously told the Senate and House intelligence committees that the plans for a Trump Tower in Russia’s capital had fizzled out in January 2016, he now admits to having personally worked on the deal through June of that year.

Trump’s current attorney Rudy Giuliani later said on live television that negotiations may have extended through the month of the presidential election.

Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican now serving as the Oversight Committee’s ranking member, blasted Cohen’s new congressional invitation as “political theater” in light of the lawyer’s admitted perjury.

“The Democrats’ star witness has admitted to providing intentionally false and misleading testimony to Congress,” Jordan said in a statement. “He is also a witness in ongoing law-enforcement matters, including Special Counsel Mueller’s probe.”

Apart from this matter, federal prosecutors in Manhattan have also pursued Cohen for campaign-finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud.

At his sentencing, Cohen insisted that his crimes were driven by excessive loyalty to Trump.

“Recently the president tweeted a statement calling me weak, and it was correct but for a much different reason than he was implying,” Cohen, 52, told the court. “It was because time and time again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds rather than to listen to my own inner voice and my moral compass.”

Though Mueller’s office credited Cohen with providing “credible” and “valuable” information, Manhattan prosecutors slammed him for what they called “selective cooperation.”

“The charges portray a pattern of deception, of brazenness and of greed,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said at the time. 

Cummings said he sent letters to the White House and the Trump Organization earlier this week renewing a 4-month-old request for documents related to the president’s failure to report debts as well as his payments to Cohen to silence adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The congressman said that the deadline for those documents is Jan. 22.

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