Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen returns for fourth day of congressional testimony

VIDEO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen returns to Capitol Hill on Wednesday (March 6) for what is expected to be the last of four interviews he has given to congressional panels in recent weeks, detailing what he knew about alleged hush money payments, the lies he told to shield Trump's Russia contacts, and pardons.

Cohen will speak for a second time with the House Intelligence Committee, which first met privately with Cohen last week, following another closed-door session with the Senate Intelligence Committee and a public hearing with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

During the course of those interviews, both House and Senate investigators expressed a keen interest in the subject of pardons, which Cohen claims Trump's representatives dangled before him, according to people familiar with the matter.

But others familiar with the matter said it was Cohen's lawyers who raised the pardon issue in such discussions.

The dispute is the latest controversy surrounding Cohen's testimony and credibility as he shifts from being one of Trump's staunchest protectors to the most vocal accuser to emerge from the president's inner circle.

Cohen will soon start a three-year prison term for lies he told to Congress the last time he testified on Capitol Hill in 2017.

Cohen has also testified that Trump's representatives made changes to what he planned to tell lawmakers then - a charge Trump's representatives have denied.

 

Nonetheless, Cohen's testimony has opened up several avenues of inquiry for the six House panels looking into allegations of wrongdoing in Trump's campaign and presidency, investigations that are picking up steam as lawmakers brace for an expected report from special counsel Robert Mueller.

In the House Intelligence Committee, the recent hire of Daniel Goldman, who prosecuted securities fraud, racketeering and organised crime, suggests that the panel will be taking a close look at Trump's finances and whether they were tied to foreign entities, Russian or otherwise, who could have leverage over the president.

Panel chairman and Democratic Representative Adam Schiff has also said he wants to look into questions of money laundering.

The panel is also expected to grill Cohen over what he knows about whether Trump had advance notice that WikiLeaks would be releasing a trove of emails damaging to his 2016 election opponent Hillary Clinton, and other efforts to interfere in the election to sway victory in his direction.

They are also expected to question Cohen about the timeline of Trump's Russian contacts, particularly as it concerns his efforts well into the campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.