Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, will testify at a hearing next month convened by Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, the new chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. Cohen initially lied and said the Trump Tower Moscow talks ended in January 2016, but he admitted last month those conversations extended through June 2016 when he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project.
The hearing, set for February 7 before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, was announced Thursday afternoon by Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, who is the new chairman of the committee.
The hearing will be February 7 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to a schedule published by Democratic Chairman Elijah Cummings, making the president's former "fixer" the first former Trump confidant connected to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation to cooperate with Democrats since taking control of the House. "I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired", he added.
Cohen's public testimony could spell trouble for Trump, given Cohen's extensive knowledge of and participation in illegal hush money payments, the Trump campaign's contacts with Russian Federation, and the Trump Organization's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail on 12 December after pleading guilty to tax evasion, making false statements and illegal campaign contributions. Asked by reporters in Texas on Thursday about Cohen's appearance, Trump said he's "not anxious about it at all".
Individual 1 was a reference to Trump. Trump has denied the trysts.
Cohen is expected to face tough questions about hush-money payments he arranged on Trump's behalf to keep extramarital affair allegations out of the news during the 2016 presidential election.
Cummings thanked Cohen for agreeing to testify "voluntarily".
On the subject of the payments, Trump insisted he only found out about them after they were made, despite the release of a 2016 recorded conversation in which Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing a deal to pay McDougal for her story of a 2006 affair. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who was made chairman of the committee after Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, made the announcement Thursday. He said he's speaking with Mueller's office to prevent that.
He pleaded guilty in August in return for a plea deal.
The Oversight Committee apparently isn't the Capitol Hill body with which Cohen is eager to speak.
The session will come just under a month before he is due to turn himself in for a three-year prison sentence.
The oversight hearing may not be Cohen's only appearance.
"Last November, the American people voted overwhelmingly for Congress to do two things - address the core issues that affect their daily lives, and fulfill our Constitutional responsibility to serve as an independent check and balance on the executive branch by restoring accountability and transparency", Mr Cummings said in a statement.