Ex-Trump lawyer to testify publicly before U.S. Congress

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen

Just one month before he will report to prison and serve a three-year sentence, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen will testify publicly before Congress.

The testimony comes after Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison for multiple crimes, including felony violations of campaign finance laws he undertook, prosecutors alleged, under Mr Trump's direction.

Cohen has agreed to testify publicly before the panel on February 7, according to a statement from Cohen.

Cohen said Thursday in a statement that he looks forward to having a platform to give a "full and credible account of the events which have transpired".

Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan in August to tax fraud, making false statements to a bank and a campaign finance violation.

In an exclusive interview after his sentencing with ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, Cohen slammed his former boss as incapable of telling the truth and faulted his own "blind loyalty" to the president for his role in the payments to the women.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated" with the Trump campaign. Asked by reporters in Texas on Thursday about Cohen's appearance, Trump said he's "not anxious about it at all".

"Mr. Cohen knows where a good numerous bodies were buried during the Trump campaign", Riopelle said.

Trump has denied having the extramarital affairs.

Trump has dismissed Cohen as a liar who "became a 'Rat"' after the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched his office. He also thanked Cohen for agreeing to testify voluntarily.

"We don't want to do anything to interfere with the Mueller investigation - absolutely nothing", Cummings said. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who was made chairman of the committee after Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, made the announcement Thursday.

Cummings has signalled that his committee is more interested in investigating the president's involvement in the campaign violations to which Cohen pleaded guilty past year.

Mueller's team in court filings wrote that Cohen provided "useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation".

The public release of a redacted transcript of his previous closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in its own Russian Federation investigation is expected to be released soon, along with the testimony of dozens of other witnesses in that probe. Cohen's appearance in public, before national television cameras, will begin to fulfill that promise, but is likely to only be the first of a string of public testimony that could prove damaging to the president. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement.

On the House Intelligence Committee, for instance, Chairman Adam Schiff of California has said he will issue a subpoena if necessary to obtain Donald Trump Jr.'s phone records to find out who Trump's son called when Trump Jr. called a number blocked in phone records while setting up the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

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