US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has agreed to voluntarily testify before the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee next month, the Democratic chairman of the panel announced Thursday, according to The Hill.
“I thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily,” Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said in a statement.
“I want to make clear that we have no interest in inappropriately interfering with any ongoing criminal investigations, and to that end, we are in the process of consulting with Special Counsel Mueller’s office. The Committee will announce additional information in the coming weeks,” he added.
The announcement of the hearing represents the first major power play by Democrats to use their newfound majority in the House to drill down on investigations into the president.
Cohen is scheduled to testify before the committee on February 7 in public, and Democrats will question him on the Russia investigation and his admissions about hush-money payments to women alleging affairs with the president.
In his own statement, Cohen said he looks 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.”
In December 2018, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes related to the 2016 presidential campaign.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance law violations.
And, in November, he pleaded guilty to lying under oath to Congress, as part of a plea bargain Cohen signed with special prosecutor Robert Muller, who is investigating suspicions of Russia's illegal involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen has been cooperating with Mueller’s team and provided him useful information related to the Trump Organization and his contacts with the White House, according to the special counsel.
The campaign finance violations to which he pleaded guilty stem from an effort to payoff women who alleged affairs with Trump, admitting it was done to prevent negative information from surfacing during the election. Cohen also implicated Trump in the scheme, a fact which Trump denies.
The president has described Cohen as a “rat” willing to lie to prosecutors in order to get a lighter prison sentence.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Thursday that he welcomed Cohen’s public testimony before the Oversight panel but also said it would be “necessary” to have Cohen appear behind closed doors as his committee probes Russian interference.
“We hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future,” Schiff said.