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Michael Cohen To Testify In An Open Session Before Congress Next Month

Cohen also pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about the timing of talks with Russia for building a Trump Tower complex in Moscow.

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Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen exits Federal Court in Manhattan, New York City, Nov. 29, 2018. VOA

Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s estranged personal lawyer, said on Thursday that he will testify in an open session before a congressional panel next month, just weeks before he heads to prison for lying to Congress and other crimes.

In a statement, Cohen, who has provided dozens of hours of testimony about his dealings with Trump to prosecutors since flipping on the president last year, said that he “looks 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.”

The testimony will take place on Feb. 7 before the House Oversight Committee, the panel’s new Democratic chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, announced.

Michael Cohen, Trump, Russia
Michael Cohen walks out of federal court, Nov. 29, 2018, in New York, after pleading guilty to lying to Congress about work he did on an aborted project to build a Trump Tower in Russia. VOA

Cummings, a staunch critic of the Trump administration, said he has asked the White House and the Trump Organization to turn over the documents related to hush money payments Cohen made to two women who had alleged affairs with Trump.

In a statement, Cummings said that he’s coordinating Cohen’s testimony with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating allegations the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians and the president obstructed justice by interfering in the investigation.

“I want to make clear that we have no interest in inappropriately interfering with any ongoing criminal investigations, and to that end, we are in the process of consulting with Special Counsel Mueller’s office,” Cummings said.

Trump not worried

Trump, who has called his former lawyer a “weak person” and has accused him of lying to prosecutors to try to get a reduced prison sentence, told reporters Thursday that he was not “worried” about Cohen’s testimony.

U.S.A., Trump, Russia, Cohen
In these 2018 photos, Paul Manafort leaves federal court in Washington, left and attorney Michael Cohen leaves federal court in New York. VOA

Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he hopes to schedule a closed-door session with Cohen about the Russian meddling.

Cohen, who once said that he’ll “take a bullet” for Trump, told a judge last month that his “blind loyalty” to the U.S. leader led him to “cover up his dirty deeds.”

He pleaded guilty in August to federal charges of tax fraud, falsifying bank statements, and a payment he made to an adult film star to keep silent about an affair she allegedly had with Trump.

Cohen alleged that Trump directed him to make the $130,000 payment, which prosecutors say was an illegal campaign contribution that could influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Trump Says He’s Too Successful To Be Impeached

Cohen also pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about the timing of talks with Russia for building a Trump Tower complex in Moscow. The talks were still going on during the time Trump was running for president.

Trump has denied the allegations. (VOA)

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Trump Administration Throws Out Obama-Era Rules that Expended Federal Protection of Waterways from Pollution

The Trump administration has thrown out Obama-era rules that expended federal protection of waterways from pollution

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Trump, Administration, Obama Era
FILE - A dry water ditch is seen next to a corn field in Cordova, Maryland, June 11, 2015. VOA

The Trump administration has thrown out Obama-era rules that expended federal protection of waterways from pollution, a move environmentalists say they will challenge in court.

Getting rid of the 2015 Waters of the United States Act “puts an end to an egregious power grab, eliminates an ongoing patchwork of clean water regulations, and restores a longstanding and familiar regulatory framework,” Environmental Protection Agency Chief Andrew Wheeler said Thursday.

He added that it fulfills one of President Donald Trump’s “key promises.”

Wheeler made his announcement at the Washington headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, whose members have been lobbying against the clean water regulations.

Trump, Administration, Obama Era
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks at a news conference in Washington, Sept. 12, 2019. VOA

The WOTUS rule protected wetlands and streams from pollution by pesticides, mine waste and fertilizers. It solidified what waterways fell under the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act.

Opponents of the Obama administration rules say the regulations created confusion, and likened them to a federal land grab of private property. Farmers and others complained the act also applied to small ponds that do not flow anywhere, leaving them wondering whether they could work their land without violating federal law.

Wheeler says the EPA will now redefine which waterways are subject to federal regulation.

Planned lawsuit

Also Read- US Biologists Declares “Unusual Mortality Event” in Deaths of Nearly 300 Ice Seals Off Alaska’s Northwest Coast

Environmentalists say they will take the EPA to court. They said Thursday that throwing out the 2015 rule means unsafe drinking water, a higher risk of floods when wetlands are destroyed and less wildlife habitat.

“The Clean Water rule represented solid science and smart public policy,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said Thursday.

Betsy Southerland, a top EPA official during the Obama years, calls the repeal a “victory for land developers, oil and gas drillers, and miners.” (VOA)