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Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, ends 3 days of ‘excruciating’ testimony with another scheduled

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Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, ends  3 days of ‘excruciating’ testimony with another scheduled


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Tracking the milestones in Robert Mueller’s investigation can be tough, but if you’ve got three minutes, we’ve got a wrap-up of Michael Cohen for you.
Hannah Gaber Saletan, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, concluded three days of “excruciating” appearances before congressional committees on Thursday with lawmakers saying they needed to meet again as they expand their investigation into the president.

Lawmakers said they also planned to take testimony from Felix Sater, a Trump business partner who helped negotiate a potential Trump Tower project in Moscow that was the subject of Cohen’s conviction for lying to Congress.

“We had a long day, but it wasn’t a long enough day,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “I think we all feel it was a very productive interview today, where he was able to shed light on a lot of issues that are important to our investigation. We were able to drill down in great detail.”

The March 6 session also will be closed, although Schiff said he expected to release a transcript of Cohen’s testimony once the Justice Department has an opportunity to review it. The panel scheduled an open hearing on March 14 with Sater.

“I should tell you just to set your expectations, not every hearing is going to be like the open hearing of Michael Cohen,” Schiff said. “We have to look at these on a case by case basis in terms of investigative leads as well as activities of the Department of Justice. But we are going to try to do as much as we can in the open.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about negotiations that never came to fruition for the Moscow project, which continued during the 2016 campaign year rather than ending that January. Cohen is scheduled to begin serving three years in prison May 6 for that and other charges covering tax evasion and hush payments to women who claimed to have had sex with Trump.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told CNN that lawmakers want to understand “why a presidential candidate was seeking to put a tower in Moscow at the same time we were learning about Russian attacks on our democracy.”

Cohen delivered testimony behind closed doors Tuesday to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. And he testified in open session Wednesday at the House Oversight and Reform Committee, delivering a searing rebuke of his former boss as a “con man” and “cheat,” and tying him directly to the criminal probes that have surrounded the president. 

“This has obviously been an excruciating time for him,” Schiff said. “We are very grateful that he was as forthcoming as he was.”

No questions went unanswered Thursday and he was “fully cooperative,” Schiff said. But the committee, which has dozens of Cohen documents already, will discuss him providing more, Schiff said.

“I can say that on a number of topics that he testified about yesterday, we were able to go into great detail,” Schiff said. “But we also covered a number of items and issues important to us that were not the subject of the hearing yesterday.”

Cohen said he couldn’t say much about his testimony.

“I’m committed to telling the truth,” Cohen said. “There’s more to discuss.”

Trump disputed Cohen’s testimony Wednesday before the Oversight panel as “a lot” of lies and “shameful.”

Cohen, a pugnacious lawyer and problem-solver for Trump, once declared that he would “take a bullet” for the president. Less than a year later, he became one of Trump’s leading antagonists, providing information to federal prosecutors in two criminal investigations focused on the president.

In one of those cases, Cohen pleaded guilty in New York in August to tax evasion, to making false bank statements and to making illegal campaign contributions for paying hush money to two women who claimed to have had sex with Trump.

Cohen also pleaded guilty in Mueller’s investigation in November to lying to Congress about talks for a Russian real-estate project, in what he described as an attempt to reduce attention on Trump’s overseas business. He told the House and Senate intelligence committees that talks ended in January 2016 – before the Iowa caucuses – even though talks extended through at least June 2016, when Trump had effectively wrapped up the Republican nomination.

Timeline of Cohen: From Trump fixer to Mueller informant: Timeline of Michael Cohen’s role in Russia probe

Coming Up: Michael Cohen, once keeper of Donald Trump’s secrets, plans to accuse the president of ‘criminal conduct’

Sentenced: Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, is sentenced to three years in prison for ‘dirty deeds’

Takeaways: Cohen takeaways: As Trump’s former lawyer heads to prison, political and legal implications grow for White House

 

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