President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said Thursday he has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee in February.
Despite his longtime loyalty to Mr. Trump, Cohen is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and has pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and committing campaign finance violations that he said were done on Mr. Trump’s orders.
Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a statement that the Democratic majority in the House showed that the public wants Congress “to serve as an independent check and balance on the Executive Branch by restoring accountability and transparency,” and that Cohen’s testimony would be a part of that mission. He also thanked Cohen for agreeing to testify voluntarily.
“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.
Cohen attorney Lanny Davis released a statement from his client confirming that he would be testifying.
“In furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers, I have accepted the invitation by Chairman Elijah Cummings to appear publicly on February 7th before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,” Cohen said. “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.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said that his committee would also want to interview Cohen in a closed session to discuss the Russia investigation.
“Mr. Cohen has expressed an interest in telling his personal story in open session, and we welcome his testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Reform. It will be necessary, however, 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,” Schiff said in a statement.
Cohen’s testimony before Congress will have to be accomplished soon as he is supposed to report to prison on March 6. In December, Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
During his sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court, Cohen said he acted out of “blind loyalty” to Mr. Trump. The judge said Cohen’s crimes were “a veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct.”
Mr. Trump has denied that he directed Cohen to break campaign finance laws.