Michael Cohen Postpones Congressional Testimony, Citing ‘Ongoing Threats’ From Trump

Chuck Ross | Reporter
Michael Cohen said Wednesday he is postponing congressional testimony scheduled for February due to what he claims are threats made against his family by President Donald Trump.

“Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, on the advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date,” Lanny Davis, a legal adviser for Cohen, said in a statement.

Cohen, a former personal attorney for Trump, was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7 to testify about his work for his former boss.

Cohen is set to go to prison in March after receiving a three-year sentence on Dec. 12 for several crimes, including tax evasion, bank fraud, lying to Congress and making illegal campaign contributions.

Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation to lying to Congress in 2017 about his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He pleaded guilty Aug. 21 in a case handled by federal prosecutors in Manhattan to the tax and bank charges. He also admitted to making hush payments to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Cohen has claimed Trump directed him to pay Daniels $130,000 in October 2016.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters at Trump Tower, January 12, 2017 in New York City. President-elect Trump continues to hold meetings Trump Tower. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks to reporters at Trump Tower, January 12, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Davis signaled since earlier in January that Cohen was considering backing out of his testimony. Davis cited Trump and Giuliani’s comments suggesting Cohen’s father in law was involved in illegal activity as an attempt to intimidate Cohen.

Democratic lawmakers have also suggested that Trump’s remarks were attempts to intimidate Cohen.

Davis did not set a new date for Cohen’s testimony, saying only the former Trump fixer will testify “at the appropriate time.”

Davis had said Cohen would likely not answer questions related to the special counsel’s Russia probe, or the New York investigation. He has said Cohen’s legal team was in conversation with prosecutors about what Cohen could and could not discuss.

Davis had made it clear that he hoped Cohen would discuss “anecdotes” from his time working for Trump.

Davis told the House Oversight panel during negotiations about Cohen’s testimony that Cohen did not initially want to testify before Congress. But he said he pushed Cohen to speak in an open hearing. Davis also told lawmakers they would likely find Cohen’s testimony “unsatisfying” due to the restrictions set in place by the special counsel. (RELATED: Lanny Davis Told Lawmakers That Cohen’s Testimony Was Likely To Be ‘Unsatisfying’)

The delay likely means that Cohen will not anytime soon be answering questions raised in a BuzzFeed report Thursday that Trump ordered Cohen to lie to Congress about his negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The special counsel’s office issued a rare statement disputing aspects of that story, but neither Cohen nor Davis has said whether the story is accurate.

Cohen also avoids being asked about a McClatchy report from Dec. 27 that, if true, would back up one of the most damning allegations made in the infamous Steele dossier: that Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 campaign to pay off Russian hackers.

Cohen and Davis did deny that report.

Both BuzzFeed and McClatchy say they are standing by their stories.

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