White House

Cohen Postpones Congressional Testimony, Citing Trump’s Threats

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen exits Federal Court after entering a guilty plea in Manhattan, N.Y., November 29, 2018. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters )

Michael Cohen will not testify before Congress regarding his work for the Trump campaign on February 7 as previously planned, his attorney Lanny Davis announced Wednesday.

“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, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date,” Davis said in a statement.

President Trump responded to Cohen’s claim Wednesday, accusing his former personal attorney of seeking to conceal the truth.

“I would say he’s been threatened by the truth,” Trump told reporters. “He doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last year after pleading guilty to campaign-finance violations, lying to Congress, and a number of fraud charges. Davis said his client still “looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time” before the House Oversight Committee.

The panels’s chairman, Representative Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), responded to Cohen’s announcement in a joint statement issued with House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff.

“We will not let the President’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities,” the lawmakers said in the statement. “This will not stop us from getting to the truth. We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances.”

After mentioning Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, in a tweet earlier this week, Trump again suggested during a Saturday interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro that Shusterman should be investigated, appearing to reference his reported business dealings with a Chicago cab-company owner whose name appeared on the FBI warrant used to raid Cohen’s home and business.

“[Cohen] should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at,” Trump said.

The president also mentioned Cohen’s wife and father-in-law in a December tweet. Mr. Shusterman has previously pleaded guilty to tax fraud, and reportedly loaned millions to the Chicago cab-company owner.

Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani defended his client’s references to Cohen’s family during an interview with Jake Tapper over the weekend. Cummings and Schiff, however, cautioned the president against interfering with their oversight duties.

“Our nation’s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress,” the pair wrote. “The President should make no statement or take any action to obstruct Congress’ independent oversight and investigative efforts, including by seeking to discourage any witness from testifying in response to a duly authorized request from Congress.”

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