A week after taking control of the U.S. House for the 116th Congress, Democrats have set their first hearing with a key figure in investigations of President Donald Trump, as a House panel will hear from Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who plead guilty last year to violating campaign finance laws in 2016 by making hush money payments to two women at the direction of the President.
“I thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily,” Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said in a written statement, as he noted the Special Counsel investigation which has involved testimony from Cohen.
“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 added.
In his own statement, Cohen said he was ready to speak out in public.
“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,” said Cohen, who is scheduled to start a three year prison term in March.
Other than a handful of short of interviews, this would be the first time that Cohen has spoken out in public about his work for the President.
When he first came under legal scrutiny this year, after an FBI raid in April, Cohen said he would ‘take a bullet’ for the President – ultimately, Cohen agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York and the Special Counsel investigation.
Cohen has already admitted that he lied to Congress about business dealings involving the Trump Organization and Russia, as he tried to keep lawmakers from finding out that those contacts had continued deep into the 2016 campaign.
In his plea bargain agreement with the Special Counsel, Cohen admitted that he agreed to travel to Russia in connection with a “Trump Tower Moscow” project, as Cohen detailed contacts with a top aide of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Along with his testimony to the House Oversight Committee, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee still want to talk to Cohen as well.
The news about testimony from Cohen on Capitol Hill came as a federal judge ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller to turn over – by Monday – evidence of lies allegedly told by former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Earlier this week, lawyers for Manafort challenged assertions made by the Special Counsel’s Office that Manafort had lied to investigators – saying that the former Trump campaign official merely needed his memory refreshed about certain events in 2016.
Those included revelations – made public only because of a redaction mistake made by Manafort’s lawyers – that Manafort had given campaign polling data to a Russian associate with ties to Russian intelligence.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Mueller’s team to produce evidence about five different matters, ordering the government to submit evidence by Monday on the “factual and evidentiary basis of the five alleged breaches.”