Michael Cohen postpones congressional testimony over concern for family’s safety

UPDATE — 12:01 p.m. EST: Michael Cohen has been subpoenaed to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee after previously making false statements to the same congressional panel about a proposed Trump Tower construction project in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney and executive for the Trump Organization, has delayed testifying in front of Congress over the claim his family has been threatened by Donald Trump and his current attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Mr. Cohen was scheduled to voluntarily testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Feb. 7.

In a statement on Wednesday, Lanny Davis, the attorney representing Cohen, said:  “This is the time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first.”

Davis’ statement read further:

“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 declined to say when Cohen would reschedule his congressional appearance.

The alleged threats Mssrs. Cohen and Davis are believed to have referenced lay in a tweet posted by President Trump in anticipation of Cohen’s congressional appearance.

A central figure in two scandals affecting Trump, Cohen arranged hush-money payments to women with whom Trump is alleged to have had extramarital affairs.  In a second matter, Cohen is said to have led negotiations for a proposed Trump-owned building project in Moscow.

Cohen’s payments to the two women, pornographic actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, are under scrutiny as potential campaign finance violations.

Cohen’s involvement in the proposed development of a Trump Tower in Moscow is a matter of renewed interest by the new Democratic House majority.

Mr. Cohen is still expected to appear before the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees, but is not believed to be testifying on matters currently under investigation.

“When our Committees began discussions with Mr. Cohen’s attorney, not appearing before Congress was never an option. We will not let the President’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities,” committee chairmen Elijiah Cummings (Md.) and Adam Schiff (Calif.) said in a joint statement.

“This will not stop us from getting to the truth. We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees”.

Trump rejected allegations either he or his associates delivered threats to Cohen or his family, telling reporters at the White House Cohen is “only threatened by the truth.”

Cohen is expected to surrender to authorities in March to begin a three-year prison sentence on charges of bank fraud, lying to Congress and income-tax evasion.

 

[CNBC] [The Hill] [NBC News] [Photo courtesy CNN]

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