WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who was interviewed for more than seven hours behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, is to return to Capitol Hill March 6 to finish testifying.
The committee’s chairman, Democrat Adam Schiff of California, announced Cohen would be returning, as will Russian-born businessman Felix Sater, who worked on the Trump Tower Moscow project with Cohen.
Sater has attracted media attention as a result of his ties to Trump and involvement in the proposal. The New York Times reported in August 2017 that Sater referenced his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin in emails to Cohen and said the real estate deal would help elect Trump to the presidency.
“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote. “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”
Schiff said the closed-door session with Cohen was productive. He said lawmakers were able to “drill down in great detail” on issues under investigation.
Focused on Russian interference
The closed-door session was expected to focus on topics related to the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and ties between Russia and Trump associates.
Thursday’s developments come on the heels of public testimony the day before from Cohen, in which he called his former boss a “racist, a con man and a cheat.”
Trump fired back in a televised interview on Fox News Thursday night, calling Cohen’s testimony “a terrible display of dishonesty.”
Earlier Thursday in Vietnam, Trump said during a news conference after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Cohen “lied a lot.” Trump also reiterated his repeated defense that his presidential campaign did not collude with Russia.
Cohen told the House committee Wednesday that he did not have direct evidence of collusion but, he said, “I have my suspicions.”
He told lawmakers Trump knew his campaign adviser, Roger Stone, was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Russian-hacked Democratic National Committee emails damaging to his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, before WikiLeaks released them to the public.
Prison sentence delayed
Cohen's return to Capitol Hill on March 6 is the date he was originally supposed to report to prison to begin serving a three-year sentence. A judge allowed his report date to be delayed two months, after Cohen's attorney requested time for Cohen to prepare for his congressional testimony.
On Thursday, news reports emerged saying the House Intelligence Committee plans to bring in Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's longtime chief financial officer, to testify.
In Wednesday's testimony, Cohen said that Weisselberg was directly involved in Trump's legal practices. Cohen alleged that Weisselberg and Trump discussed reimbursements for hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels, who claimed an affair with Trump, and that Weisselberg was aware Trump committed potential insurance fraud by inflating his assets.
The last time the United States witnessed anything like this was in 1973, when former White House Counsel John Dean delivered a dramatic testimony that implicated President Richard Nixon and others in a cover-up effort in the Watergate affair. A year later Nixon became the first and only American president to resign.
Cohen pleaded guilty last year to eight criminal charges, including campaign finance violations in connection with the payments to adult film actress Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also alleges she had an affair with Trump. Trump has denied both claims.
Cohen also pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress about the Trump Organization's efforts to negotiate a deal to construct a Trump Tower in Moscow.