January 11, 2019 09:12:30
United States President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has agreed to testify publicly before a House of Representatives committee next month.
- Mr Cohen will answer questions in a public hearing in February
- Mr Trump used to refer to his former lawyer as his “fixer”
- He was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress and fraud charges
Cohen said in a statement he had accepted an invitation by the panel’s Democratic chairman, US Representative Elijah Cummings, to appear publicly before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 7 (local time).
“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.
His testimony will be the first major public hearing for Democrats, who have promised greater scrutiny of Mr Trump.
When asked if he was concerned about the hearing while at a press conference today, Mr Trump was quite succinct.
“I’m not worried at all, no,” he said.
Mr Cummings praised Mr Cohen for agreeing to testify voluntarily, saying the aim of the hearings was “restoring accountability and transparency”.
“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,” he said.
Cohen is a pivotal figure in investigations by Mr Mueller into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, and by federal prosecutors in New York into campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments to two women who say they had sex with Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has denied the affairs, any involvement in the payments and directing Cohen to act illegally on his behalf.
The President previously called his former lawyer a “rat” after he cooperated with the prosecution.
Cohen, Mr Trump’s self-described longtime “fixer,” pleaded guilty to charges including tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations in August and admitted to making false statements to Congress in November.
In December, he was sentenced to a total of three years in prison, with the jail term to begin in March.
A judge also ordered Cohen to forfeit $692,000 and pay restitution of nearly $1.9 million.
“I felt it was my duty to cover up his own dirty deeds,” he told the judge during the sentencing hearing, referring to Mr Trump.
“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”
January 11, 2019 08:14:52