Trump's former lawyer to testify publicly before Congress

Michael Cohen President Donald Trump's former lawyer leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York Wednesday Dec. 12 2018

His testimony will be the first major public hearing for Democrats, who have promised greater scrutiny of Mr Trump.

President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is set to testify publicly before the House Oversight Committee, Democrats announced on Thursday.

Cohen, who served as Trump's attorney and fixer for years, came under scrutiny from federal prosecutors in NY over hush money payments he orchestrated during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who alleged having extramarital affairs with Trump.

Cohen, in a statement, said he agreed to testify in "furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers".

On Twitter, Trump has accused Cohen of lying several times and referred to him as "weak".

Cohen said in a statement he had accepted an invitation by the panel's Democratic chairman, US Representative Elijah Cummings, to appear publicly before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 7 (local time).

At Cohen's sentencing hearing in December, a prosecutor in Mueller's office said Cohen "has provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation" without elaborating.

Cohen said that he would bury the reporter under financial problems forever, saying "what I'm going to do to you is going to be f*cking disgusting", and adding that it wasn't possible by definition to rape one's spouse, a comment he was later compelled to apologize for making. Prosecutors have said Cohen did so at Trump's direction.

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Individual 1 was a reference to Trump.

The women have claimed they had affairs with Trump after the real estate mogul married his third wife, Melania.

Cohen said a misplaced sense of loyalty led him to break the law for Trump.

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY have implicated, but not charged, the president in the deals reached in the closing weeks of the 2016 election, alleging in court filings that Cohen acted "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether anyone in Trump's campaign participated in those efforts.

Trump lashed out at Cohen after his sentencing last month, tweeting that his former close confidant only agreed to plead guilty "in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did".

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he welcomed Cohen's agreement to testify, but added it would be "necessary. for Mr. Cohen to answer questions pertaining to the Russian Federation investigation, and we hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future".

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Cohen "Cohen has had in his possession for months a request to return to the Senate Intelligence Committee for additional closed-door testimony, made all the more necessary by Mr. Cohen's indictment and guilty plea for making false statements to Committee investigators".

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