Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, to testify publicly before Congress

Michael Cohen

"It will be necessary, however, for Mr Cohen to answer questions pertaining to the Russian Federation investigation, and we hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future".

President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and "fixer" - who also pleaded guilty to financial crimes, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress - is set to testify before the House Committee of Oversight and Reform on February 7.

Cohen is a pivotal figure in investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign and by federal prosecutors in NY into campaign finance violations related to payments to buy the silence of a porn actress and a former Playboy Playmate who say they had sex with Trump.

"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.

Cohen had been a key figure in Trump's inner orbit for years - and played the role of attack dog in the press during the 2016 campaign - but has severed his relationship with his former boss and is cooperating in several investigations involving Trump.

Cohen said Trump directed him to make the payments because of concern about how they might affect the election campaign, adding that, "nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump".

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the new chairman of the oversight and government reform committee, thanked Cohen for agreeing to testify.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media after signing Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation in the Oval Office on January 9, 2019 in Washington.

Regardless of what Cohen says, though, his testimony will surely result in a presidential temper tantrum from his one-time mentor, who has called Cohen a "weak person", and recommended that people not hire him as their lawyer. Cummings is also requesting a raft of potentially revealing communications about the payments and other legal services Cohen provided for the president and his company.

He also denied that Trump had committed impeachment offenses of high crimes or misdemeanors.

Cummings has signaled that his committee is more interested in investigating the president's involvement in the campaign violations to which Cohen pleaded guilty previous year.

Trump lashed out at Cohen after his sentencing last month, tweeting that his former close confidant only agreed to plead guilty "in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did".

Trump was directly implicated by Cohen's campaign finance guilty plea, as Cohen and prosecutors have told the court that the payments were made in coordination with the then-candidate.

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY have implicated, but not charged, the president in the deals reached in the closing weeks of the 2016 election, alleging in court filings that Cohen acted "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller for many months has been investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election, possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign and potential obstruction of justice. Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, also said he would be seeking a closed door hearing with Cohen.

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