Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to testify before House committee

Michael Cohen

Donald Trump's longtime lawyer and aide Michael Cohen says he has accepted an invitation from a top House Democrat to testify publicly before Congress next month.

Democratic lawmakers have wanted to call Cohen back to Capitol Hill since the special counsel determined Cohen lied during his previous testimony - lies that formed at least part of the foundation of a controversial investigative report that House Intelligecne Committee Republicans released past year, determining that there was no evidence of links between Trump's campaign and Russian officials. "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.

Cummings had pushed a year ago for the committee to summon Cohen to testify about his interactions with the president.

Cohen pleaded guilty in November for lying to Congress during private testimony in 2017 about the timing and extent of discussions he had about a Russian real estate deal during Trump's campaign.

Cohen, who had been the real estate billionaire's right-hand-man and fixer at the Trump Organisation in NY, said at his 12 December sentencing that he spent years covering up for his boss's "dirty deeds". Based on the description in the court documents, Individual 1 appears to be President Trump. Trump has denied the trysts.

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In an interview with ABC News after his conviction Cohen said Mr Trump knew it was wrong to order the hush payments. He is set to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating payments made during the 2016 campaign to silence women who claimed to have had sex with Trump.

The chairman of the oversight panel, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said the committee is consulting with Mueller's office about the testimony.

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

But because he pleaded guilty he was never cross-examined on details of his dealings with Mr Trump.

The panel's top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan of OH, said Cohen's appearance shows that Cummings is using the "committee as a venue for political theatre rather than legitimate oversight", noting how Cohen has admitted knowingly lying to Congress and is a witness in ongoing investigations.

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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.

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He added, "As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better".

"Mr. Cohen has expressed an interest in telling his personal story in open session, and we welcome his testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Reform", said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), head of the House Intelligence Committee. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement.

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