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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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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.

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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.

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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)

Next Story

Signs Of The U.S. Government Shutdown Ending May Soon Be Emerging

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats.

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President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Jan 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. VOA

The first tangible signs of movement may be emerging in the impasse that has shut down the government for weeks: President Donald Trump is promising a “major announcement” about the closure and the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats are pledging more money for border security.

It was unclear whether the developments, following days of clashes between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., might represent serious steps toward resolving the partisan fight or instead may simply be political posturing as the partial shutdown reached a record 29th day. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have gone without paychecks, enduring financial hardship. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.

The White House has declined to provide details about what the president would announce midafternoon Saturday. Trump was not expected to sign a national emergency declaration he has said was an option to circumvent Congress, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Instead, he was expected to propose the outlines of a deal that the administration believes could have the potential to pave the way for a shutdown end, according to one of the people. They were not authorized to publicly discuss details about the impending announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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From left, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. VOA

 

Democrats are now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to ports of entry from Mexico but nothing for the wall, a House aide said, as the party begins fleshing out its vision of improving border security.

Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion he wants to start constructing that wall, which Democrats oppose, has prompted the shutdown.

Whatever the White House proposed would be the first major overture by the president since Jan. 8, when he gave an Oval Office address trying to make the public case for the border wall. Democrats have said they will not negotiate until the government reopens, raising questions about how Trump might move the ball forward.

Democrats were proposing $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges, who currently face large backlogs processing cases, and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the Democratic House aide said. The money is to be added to spending bills, largely negotiated between the House and Senate, that the House plans to vote on next week.

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Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, opposed to immigration raids targeting Central American families with children. VOA

In addition, Democrats were working toward adding money for more border security personnel and for sensors and other technology to a separate bill financing the Department of Homeland Security, but no funds for a wall or other physical barriers, the aide said.

It was possible Democrats would introduce that measure next week as the cornerstone of their border security alternative to Trump’s wall, the aide said. Earlier Friday, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who leads the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security subcommittee, said in an interview that some Democrats were asking leaders, “What is our plan?”

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the details publicly.

In a video posted on his Twitter feed late Friday, Trump said both sides should “take the politics out of it” and “get to work” to “make a deal.” But he also repeated his warnings, saying: “We have to secure our southern border. If we don’t do that, we’re a very, very sad and foolish lot.”

Few would argue that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the demand for entry by migrants and the Trump administration’s hard-line response overwhelm border resources. But critics say Trump has dramatically exaggerated the security risks and they argue that a wall would do little to solve existing problems.

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Migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America queue at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, to cross the border and request political asylum in the United States, Jan. 9, 2019. VOA

Trump’s Friday evening tweeted announcement came after Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip. The White House said there was no such leak.

It was the latest turn in the high-stakes brinkmanship between Trump and Pelosi that has played out against the stalled negotiations.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Proposes Deal To End Shutdown

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats. It is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 29.

Trump never responded directly. Instead, he abruptly canceled Pelosi’s military flight on Thursday, hours before she and a congressional delegation were to depart for Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops. (VOA)