Michael Cohen to testify publicly before Congress in February

Michael Cohen President Donald Trump's former lawyer leaves federal court after his sentencing in New York Wednesday Dec. 12 2018

Michael Cohen agrees to testify before Congress after pleading guilty to fraud and deception

President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen will testify publicly in front of the House Oversight Committee on February 7, the committee announced Thursday.

Cohen, who served as Trump's attorney and fixer for years, came under scrutiny from federal prosecutors in NY over hush money payments he orchestrated during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who alleged having extramarital affairs with Trump.

"I look 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", Cohen said in a statement.

Trump has dismissed Cohen as a liar who "became a 'Rat"' after the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched his office. It is likely to pull back the curtain on key episodes involving Trump's personal life and business dealings, including hush-money payments to women and a proposed Moscow real estate deal, that federal prosecutors have been dissecting for months.

Since his indictment in August, Cohen has also sat for multiple interviews, totaling about 70 hours, with investigators from the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller amid his ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to several people familiar with the discussions.

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Cohen once said he would take a bullet for Trump, who called his former close confidante a "Rat" on Twitter in mid-December.

Trump called Cohen "a weak person" and accused him of arranging payments of his own accord.

Cohen said a misplaced sense of loyalty led him to break the law for Trump.

When entering his guilty plea in court, Cohen told the judge he made the false statements "to be consistent with Individual 1's political messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1".

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Democratic lawmakers have wanted to call Cohen back to Capitol Hill since the special counsel determined Cohen lied during his previous testimony - lies that formed at least part of the foundation of a controversial investigative report that House Intelligecne Committee Republicans released past year, determining that there was no evidence of links between Trump's campaign and Russian officials. Specifically, he misled Congress on the work being done on a Trump Tower project in Moscow - work that continued well into 2016, even though Cohen, Trump and others had previously claimed the project was abandoned much earlier.

Committee chair Elijah Cummings of Maryland thanked Cohen for agreeing to appear in a statement on Thursday.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller for many months has been investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 USA presidential election, possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign and potential obstruction of justice.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he welcomed Cohen's agreement to testify, but added it would be "necessary. for Mr. Cohen to answer questions pertaining to the Russian Federation investigation, and we hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future".

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