Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney to President Trump, says that the salacious anti-Trump dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele is false and has “damaged” his reputation.
Cohen makes the claim in an opening statement he prepared for his interview Tuesday with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Cohen attended the meeting, but emerged two hours later, saying that it had been postponed. A request for comment from a spokesperson for the committee was not returned as of this writing.
In Cohen’s statement, which was released to various news outlets before the interview, Cohen vehemently denies allegations that he engaged with members of the Russian government to hack Democrats’ emails, interfere in the election, or to damage the Hillary Clinton campaign.
“In fact, I find the activities attributed to the Russian Federation, if found to be true, to be an offense to our democracy,” Cohen says in the prepared remarks.
He also claims that he did not witness anyone on the Trump campaign engaging in collusion.
“Given my own proximity to the President of the United States as a candidate, let me also say that I never saw [sic] anything — not a hint of anything — that demonstrated his involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion,” states Cohen.
Cohen has become a central focus of those allegations because he was identified in the Steele dossier, which was published by BuzzFeed News on Jan. 10. The Senate Intelligence Committee is one of three congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in the presidential campaign.
In the dossier, which was funded by a political ally of Hillary Clinton’s, Steele alleges that Cohen met last August with Russian government officials in Prague, Czech Republic to discuss helping the Trump campaign.
Cohen has emphatically denied the allegation, and has said in the past that he has never visited Prague — a denial which he reiterated on Tuesday in his Senate remarks.
“I am here today to reiterate my own innocence regarding the false allegations raised against me. What I seek is the Committee making a public conclusion about the truth or falsity of the allegations that follow,” Cohen’s statement reads.
“My reputation was damaged in December 2016 [sic] when BuzzFeed published an unverified dossier prepared by a retired British spy — Christopher Steele — that was riddled with total falsehoods and intentionally salacious accusations.”
Cohen asserts that Steele was unable to find any factual information, “so he threw together a shoddily written and totally fabricated report filled with lies and rumors.”
“The accusations are entirely and totally false,” Cohen asserts.
Cohen also addressed a recent report that he attempted to make a deal for the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow. Emails were released last month showing that Cohen corresponded with Felix Sater, a New York-based Russian real estate developer with a long history of shady activities.
Cohen later emailed Dmitry Peskov, the chief spokesman for Russian president Vladmir Putin, to inquire about the deal, but he says he received no reply.
“This was solely a real estate deal and nothing more. I was doing my job,” Cohen says in his prepared remarks.