Senate panel subpoenas Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer

  • In Politics
  • 2019-01-24 21:10:33Z

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday subpoenaed Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer and longtime fixer, to testify about his dealings with the president. The panel is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The move came a day after Cohen refused to testify voluntarily before a House panel because of "threats" from the president and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Lanny Davis, one of Cohen's lawyers, confirmed Thursday that he had received a subpoena to testify on Feb. 12, before Cohen is due to report to federal prison. Davis told MSNBC that Cohen will "honor" congressional subpoenas, but any appearance would depend on lawmakers' assurances that Cohen and his family would be protected.

"Mr. Cohen is concerned that when you are labeled a rat and you are going to federal prison, there could be some danger," Davis told MSNBC.

Cohen has been a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and a separate probe of payoffs to conceal allegations that Trump had carried on affairs with two women. One of the convictions for which Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison was for providing a false statement to the Senate panel about the extent of negotiations to build a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, which continued during most of 2016.

Cohen admitted he lied last year when he told House and Senate panels that Trump's private company dropped plans to build a tower in Russia before the start of the Republican presidential primaries. He later acknowledged that discussions actually continued into June 2016. By then, Trump was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Spokesmen for the Senate panel declined to comment.

Cohen didn't reply to a request for comment.

Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for a series of federal crimes, including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. He had been providing information to Mueller's investigators and to a separate team of federal prosecutors in New York examining payments he helped orchestrate to two women shortly before the 2016 election.

For years, Cohen worked as Trump's most strident defender in legal, business and political matters yet turned on him as federal prosecutors honed in on his business and legal dealings.

Cohen had offered to testify at the House panel voluntarily but then withdrew. The committee's chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said the panel would hear from Cohen "as sure as night becomes day," but he hadn't decided Wednesday whether to issue a subpoena.

"Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen's continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen's appearance will be postponed to a later date," Davis said Wednesday about the House appearance. "This is a time when Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first."

Trump has called Cohen a liar and said he was unaware of his criminal activities. Trump suggested investigators should look into Cohen's father-in-law.

Giuliani said on CNN on Sunday that Cohen's father-in-law "may have ties to something called organized crime."

Asked about Cohen's allegations Wednesday, Trump said at the White House: "He's only been threatened by the truth."

Contributing: Eliza Collins

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Senate panel subpoenas Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer


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