Senate panel subpoenas Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen in Russia-related probe, despite ‘threats to family’
- Senate Intelligence Committee serves Cohen day after he postponed an appearance before the House
- US President Trump has publicly urged the Justice Department to investigate Cohen’s father-in-law, insinuating the relative was part of some criminal activity
A Senate committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and Cohen intends to comply with the interview demand next month, his lawyer said on Thursday.
The development comes one day after Cohen postponed his public testimony to a House committee.
Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, disclosed the subpoena from the Senate intelligence committee in a one-sentence statement. He later said the two sides had agreed on a February 12 interview.
Cohen, the president’s one-time fixer, is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in March.
The Senate committee did not immediately confirm the subpoena, but any interview with Cohen would almost certainly take place in private, in keeping with how the panel generally conducts Russia-related hearings.
Cohen earlier this week delayed his February 7 appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on the advice of his legal team, citing ongoing cooperation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and threats against his family. Trump, along with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has publicly urged the Justice Department to investigate Cohen’s father-in-law, insinuating that Cohen’s relative was part of some unspecified criminal activity.
“If he wants to criticise Cohen, he can,” Davis said. “Obviously, picking on his family publicly is a way of silencing him or intimidating him. And certainly he has engendered great fear in his extended family, which is why we postponed it.”
In an interview Thursday, Davis said the House should take an immediate vote on censuring Trump “as a step before an impeachment investigation,” and he pushed for a criminal investigation of Giuliani involving allegations of obstruction, witness intimidation and witness tampering.
The decision to postpone the House interview pushed back the chance of a public airing on additional details of Cohen’s relationship with Trump, including hush-money payments that Cohen has admitted helping arrange for two women who say they had sex with the president. Trump has denied the allegation.
Democrats have suggested they may subpoena Cohen to compel his testimony and the committee’s chairman, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said Cohen could be brought from prison to appear before Congress.
“We will get his testimony,” Cummings said.
Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to the Senate intelligence committee about his role in a Trump business proposal in Moscow, acknowledging that he misled lawmakers by saying he had abandoned the project in January 2016 when he actually continued pursuing it for months after that and deep into the presidential campaign. He has also pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for his involvement in payments to a former Playboy model and porn actress who had alleged affairs with Trump.
CNN was first to report the existence of the subpoena.