Michael Cohen has postponed his Feb. 7 testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform due to “ongoing threats against his family” from President Donald Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, announced the cancellation in an emailed statement on Wednesday, citing Cohen’s continued cooperation with “ongoing investigations” as a reason for delaying his House testimony, in addition to the threats from Trump and Giuliani.
Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer, agreed earlier this month to appear before Congress to “give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired,” he said at the time.
House Oversight and Intelligence Committee Chairmen and Elijah Cummings and Adam Schiff released a joint statement Wednesday sympathizing with the “completely legitimate” concerns Cohen has for his family’s safety.
“We will not let the President’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities,” Cummings and Schiff said. “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.”
The president has made a habit of tweeting out veiled threats to former members of his inner circle who have spoken out publicly against him or cooperated with federal investigators.
Last week, he told his Twitter followers to “Watch [Cohen’s] father-in-law!”
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars….” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who is on the Oversight Committee, defended Trump from Cohen’s accusations that the president was threatening his family.
“I’m surprised at the reason he gave for postponing more so than him postponing,” Meadows said.
A reporter asked Meadows if he thought Cohen was facing threats.
“By the president? No. I mean, you’re talking about one tweet,” Meadows said.
Trump gave a Fox News interview over the weekend suggesting he could release damaging information about Cohen should the former personal “fixer” give congressional testimony.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail after pleading guilty to lying to Congress, illegally paying hush money to a pornographic actress and Playboy model, and committing other crimes.
“Blind loyalty” to Trump led him down “a path of darkness over light,” Cohen said at his sentencing last year.
BuzzFeed reported last week, citing two anonymous law enforcement officials, that Trump directed Cohen to lie in his congressional testimony about negotiations in 2016 for a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s team disputed some content of that report in a rare statement from his office.
The Justice Department submitted a letter before Cohen’s sentencing calling for only partial leniency for Cohen because he did not sign a formal cooperation agreement with the government.
Cohen promised, however, that he would appear before Congress to tell what he knows of Trump’s inner circle.
Cohen has directly implicated Trump in a series of campaign finance violations in 2016, saying that the then-Republican nominee for president, known in court documents as “Individual 1,” told him to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, to keep quiet about affairs he had with them in the 2000s.
Since those payments were intended to help the president’s chances of winning the 2016 election, they should have been reported on his campaign finance reports, prosecutors argued in their case against Cohen.
If Trump orchestrated those payments and knew they were illegal if left unreported on his FEC reports, that would constitute a felony, experts have said.
Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.
Watch Trump blast former fixer Michael Cohen