President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen has agreed to testify in a public hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in early February, panel Democrats announced Thursday.
Cohen agreed to the Feb. 7 hearing voluntarily, panel chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said.
"I want to make clear that we have no interest in inappropriately interfering with any ongoing criminal investigations, and to that end, we are in the process of consulting with Special Counsel Mueller's office," he said in a statement, promising that the panel would announce more information about the hearing in the coming weeks. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether anyone in Trump's campaign participated in those efforts.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last month for financial crimes and for lying to Congress about work he did on behalf of Trump before he took office. At his sentencing, Cohen said that he had felt a "blind loyalty" to Trump that compelled him to cover up the president's "dirty deeds," and that he was sorry to have done it. He promised to continue to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation of Trump's campaign.
Democratic lawmakers have wanted to call Cohen back to Capitol Hill since the special counsel determined Cohen lied during his previous testimony -- lies that formed at least part of the foundation of a controversial investigative report that House Intelligence Committee Republicans released last year, determining that there was no evidence of links between Trump's campaign and Russian officials.
On Thursday, Cohen said in a statement that he had accepted Cummings' invitation to testify "in furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement Thursday that he welcomed Cohen's upcoming public testimony, but he added that Cohen would need to speak to lawmakers in a private setting as well.
Also Thursday, Trump said he knew nothing about his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sharing 2016 presidential campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence.
That information was included in a court filing this week that appeared to inadvertently include details not intended to be made public and indicates a pathway by which the Russians could have had access to Trump campaign data.
"No I didn't know anything about it," Trump said in response to a question from a reporter as he departed the White House en route to Texas, where he is visiting the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump did not elaborate and turned to another reporter with a question on a different topic.
Manafort on Tuesday denied in a filing from his defense team that he broke his plea deal by lying repeatedly to prosecutors working for Mueller about that and other issues.
In his rebuttal to the special counsel's claims of dishonesty, Manafort exposed details of the dispute, much of which centers on his relationship with Kilimnik. The Russian citizen, who began working for Manafort's consulting firm in 2005, has been charged with helping his former boss obstruct Mueller's investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election. He is believed to be in Moscow.
The special counsel alleged Manafort "lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign," according to the unredacted filing. The source of that data, including whether it came from the Trump campaign, is unclear.
Information for this article was contributed by John Wagner, Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman of The Washington Post.
A Section on 01/11/2019
Print Headline: Cohen to testify in public hearing