Michael Cohen, the former Donald Trump attorney who was sentenced last year to three years in prison, has agreed to testify in a public congressional hearing next month about his private sector work for the president.
Trump told reporters in Texas an hour after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced its plans: ‘I’m not worried about it at all. No.’
Cohen was Trump’s most dogged and visible fixer for more than a decade. The committee, now helmed by Democrats for the first time in eight years, will hear his testimony on February 7.
He said Thursday that the hearing will give him a chance ‘to give a full and credible acount of the events that have transpired.’
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, said too that he hopes Cohen will testify in a ‘closed’ hearing about alleged Trump ties to Russian election meddling.
Former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen will testify in a public congressional hearing on February 7 about his work for the president in the private sector and the crimes to which he pled guilty in November
Trump employed Cohen as his personal lawyer and fixer at the Trump Organization for years before he ran for president; he told reporters in Texas on Thursday that ‘I’m not worried about it at all’
‘It will be necessary,’ Schiff said Thursday, ‘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.’
Cohen entered a guilty plea in November to a charge of lying to Congress about a Trump Organization real estate project that was slated for Moscow, Russia and discussed through the fall of 2016 while the president was rnuning for office.
Discussions about a planned construction project were ultimately abandoned and no contract was signed.
Cohen was also the central figure in a plot to buy the silence of pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen, a transaction that he admitted was a violation of campaign finance laws since it amounted to an illegally large contribution benefiting Trump’s White House hopes.
He also said in court that Trump directed him to make the payment, suggesting the president was guilty of a crime.
In August he pleaded guilty to eight separate charges related to tax dodges, falsifying bank documents and the campaign finance violations involving Daniels and another woman, former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal.
Cohen claims that at Trump’s request, he arranged for the publisher of The National Enquirer to pay McDougal – another self-described past Trump paramour – for the exclusive rights to her life story. The magazine never published anything, engaging in a practice known as ‘catch and kill’ in order to help Trump avoid new scandals in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.
Trump has denied ever having a sexual relationship with either Daniels or McDougal.
Rep. Cummings set the state for Cohen’s testimony four months ago, long before Democrats knew they would control the House of Representatives this year.
He wrote to the White House and the Trump Organization in the fall, demanding documents related to the president’s ‘apparent failure to report debts and payments to Mr. Cohen to silence women alleging extramarital affairs with the President before the election.’
This week, Cummings said Thursday, he told Trump’s government office and his family business that the documents ‘are now due on January 22.’
‘I want to make clear,’ he said in a statement, ‘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 [Robert] Mueller’s office.
Dure to figure in the Feb. 7 hearing is the saga of pornographic actress Stormey Daniels, who accepted $130,000 from Cohen for her silence about what she claimed was a sexual affair with Trump in 2006
Cohen’s decision to testify marks the latest step in his transformation from a loyal Trump Tower foot soldier to a pragmatic felon who could become a threat to the president at the moment he’s preparing to surrender to authorities.
Trump blasted him in hours after he entered his guilty plea in court six weeks ago.
On the White House’s South Lawn, the president accused his former lawyer of lying to ‘get a reduced sentence.’
‘He’s a weak person and not a very smart person,’ Trump said Nov. 29.
Cohen said Thursday that his hearing testimony would be part ot ‘my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers.’
Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, a longtime Trump antagonist, will chair the hearing.
At his sentencing in December, a dramatic Cohen said his ‘weakness and a blind loyalty’ to his longtime boss ‘led me to choose a path of darkness over light.’
‘Time and again I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,’ he told a federal judge in New York City.
Cohen, 52, will report to prison on March 6 and is free on bail until that date.