Michael Cohen Postpones House Committee Testimony Citing 'Threats'
President Trump's former lawyer will no longer testify on February 7
President Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, said Wednesday he is postponing his testimony before a House committee, citing through his lawyer "ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and [Rudy] Giuliani."
Michael Cohen will no longer appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the scheduled date of February 7, his attorney said on Wednesday, citing "threats" from the president and the president's legal team.
Last week, Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis said that his client, a former attorney and "fixer" for President Donald Trump, was "not 100% there yet," despite the committee's Democratic chairman, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, announcing the hearing.
Cohen is due to report to prison on March 6 to begin serving his three-year jail sentence for bank and tax fraud along with other campaign finance violations.
The decision is causing new uncertainties as to whether Democrats will be able to grill Cohen at all before his sentence start and he becomes a federal inmate.
"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," said the statement read by Davis.
“This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first," Cohen's lawyer added.
According to Fox News, Davis said Cohen “looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time.”
He claimed both the president and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had threatened Cohen but Davis did not detail the alleged threats.
There has been great interest in Cohen’s testimony.
The announcement follows Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office last week disputing a bombshell news report that claimed Trump told Cohen to lie about the timing of discussions over a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, said.
The statement is remarkable in that Mueller's team rarely issues statements in response to news stories.
But BuzzFeed's story sparked immense interest from Democrats, who called for renewed investigations and even suggested the allegations could be a basis for impeachment proceedings.
Cohen in December was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to numerous crimes including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about Trump’s past business dealings in Russia while cooperating with prosecutors.
Before sentencing, Cohen ripped into his former boss in federal court, telling the judge he felt it was his duty to cover up the president's “dirty deeds.”
Cohen is due to report to prison by March 6.
But Cohen has said he wants to use the opportunity of testifying before Congress to “give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired" working with Trump.
The circumstances leading to the scheduled testimony have also come under scrutiny.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee claimed Tuesday that Davis orchestrated Cohen’s upcoming public hearing before the panel and that Cohen was reluctant to do it.
Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., wrote a letter Tuesday to Cohen’s criminal defense attorney Guy Petrillo, requesting information ahead of Cohen’s appearance slated for Feb. 7.
The letter includes extensive details, apparently based on a meeting with Davis, about his purported role in setting up what has become the most highly anticipated hearing of the new Congress.
"Davis made clear that Cohen's upcoming appearance before the Committee is entirely a result of Davis's orchestration," Jordan and Meadows wrote, questioning whether it's part of a broader "media stunt" to harm the president.