Ex-Trump lawyer to testify publicly before U.S. Congress


Democrats in the House have just scheduled their first must-see TV moment since capturing the majority: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, will testify before the House Oversight Committee on February 7.

Trump himself has lashed out at Cohen, accusing him of being "weak" in working with Mueller in an effort to get a reduced sentence.

Special Counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on Cohen's upcoming testimony before Congress, but Cummings told reporters outside an unrelated closed briefing on Thursday that his committee's questioning of Cohen will be limited to avoid publicly discussing sensitive portions of the Mueller probe.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said that Mueller cleared Cohen's testimony before it was agreed to. Cohen will give a "full and credible account" of working for Trump, which is shorthand for running Trump's dirty tricks department.

Cohen's testimony also comes after he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his role in a Trump business proposal in Russian Federation considered during the campaign.

In a statement to CNN, Cohen said on Thursday that he has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee "in furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers". Asked by The Washington Post's Philip Rucker on Thursday whether he was concerned about Cohen's testimony, Trump said: "I'm not anxious about it at all".

Known as Trump's "fixer", part of Cohen's job was to make the president's problems go away - by any means necessary.

On November 30, Cohen struck a deal to plead guilty to one count of lying to Congress in exchange for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

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When asked about the issue of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Giuliani told Fox News that "Cohen doesn't know a damn thing about collusion" and added there was "no evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors" in anything that Mueller has made public so far.

Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the House Freedom Caucus chairman and a close GOP ally of Trump on the oversight panel, hinted at the acrimony Cohen should expect from the Republican questioners. Former Trump organization staffers are saying Trump has lost all his leverage and facing the same troubles in court that he used to put his opponents through - run them dry with long drawn court cases.

Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani described Cohen to Fox News as "a thoroughly discredited liar", and said he could not imagine why Cummings would want to hear from Cohen.

It was unclear if Cohen's agreement to testify before the Oversight Committee will preclude appearances, in public or private, before other House panels.

The Oversight Committee apparently isn't the Capitol Hill body with which Cohen is eager to speak.

Cohen's testimony before the oversight panel is public, so he won't talk about the Russian Federation investigation there, but he could have those discussions with Congress behind closed doors before other panels.

Cohen has testified behind close doors to both the Senate and the House previously, some of which led to his conviction on lying to Congress.