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Cohen postpones congressional testimony, citing ‘ongoing threats’ against family



Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, has postponed his highly anticipated testimony before the House Oversight Committee, citing “ongoing threats” from President Donald Trump and his current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, against Cohen’s family.

“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,” Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis said in a statement released Wednesday.

The statement added that Cohen looks forward to testifying “at the appropriate time.”

“This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first,” Davis said in the statement.

Read more: Republicans say Lanny Davis ‘pushed’ Michael Cohen to testify before Congress

The White House and Giuliani did not immediately respond to separate requests for comment from INSIDER.

Trump reacted to news of Cohen’s postponement by stating to reporters that Cohen had “only been threatened by the truth.”

Cohen in August pleaded guilty to eight crimes, including campaign finance violations linked to payments he made to two women who said they had extramarital affairs with Trump. He said he made the payments at Trump’s behest and did so to influence the 2016 presidential election.

In late November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his involvement in a plan to build Trump Tower in Moscow. He was sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes in December, despite his efforts to cooperate with Mueller.

A recent BuzzFeed News report alleged Cohen was instructed by the president to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project. The report, which contained perhaps the most damning allegations against Trump yet, has been called into question after special counsel Robert Mueller in a statement said at least some of its claims were inaccurate.

In an apparent response to the BuzzFeed report, Trump on Friday tweeted that Cohen is “l ying to reduce his jail time,” and made a vague reference to Cohen’s father-in-law. “Watch father-in-law,” Trump said.

There are many open questions about Cohen’s interactions with Trump, especially in relation to the Trump Tower Moscow project, in the context of Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. Democrats are hoping Cohen can shed more light on his and Trump’s activities by testifying before Congress.

In a statement, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said they understood Cohen’s concerns.

“We have received Mr. Cohen’s notice postponing his voluntary appearance in an open hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Reform. We certainly understand the completely legitimate concerns for the safety and security of Mr. Cohen and his family members in light of the attacks last week by President Trump and again this past weekend by his attorney, Rudy Giuliani,” the statement said.

“As we stated previously … efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members, or prevent them from testifying before Congress are textbook mob tactics that we condemn in the strongest terms,” the statement said. “Our nation’s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress.”

Cohen was set to testify on February 7, a month before he’ll begin his prison sentence.

The president’s former longtime lawyer and fixer earlier this month said in a statement he planned to testify before Congress “to give a full and credible account of the events that have transpired.”

Trump has faced criticism over his public comments on Cohen, including calling for Cohen’s father-in-law’s finances to be looked into. Giuliani has also recently made statements on Cohen’s father-in-law, including that it would be OK to go after him if he’s “a criminal.”

Read more:Michael Cohen says he felt it was his ‘duty’ to ‘cover up’ Trump’s ‘dirty deeds,’ is sentenced to 3 years in prison

After Trump blasted Cohen in a Fox News interview earlier this month, Cummings and Schiff — joined by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler — said in a statement, “The integrity of our process to serve as an independent check on the Executive Branch must be respected by everyone, including the President.”

“Our nation’s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers on Tuesday sent a letter to Guy Petrillo, one of Cohen’s lawyers, alleging Davis had “pushed” Cohen to agree to testify. One day later, Cohen postponed his testimony.

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