The Democratic chairmen of three House panels called on President Donald Trump to cease what they said are “efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure” his former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, “not to provide testimony to Congress.”
Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairmen of the House Oversight, Judiciary, and Intelligence Committees, respectively, issued the statement Sunday morning in response to comments the president made Saturday night in an interview on Fox News.
In the interview, Trump accused Cohen of agreeing to testify in front of Congress as part of an effort “to get his sentence reduced,” and suggested without evidence that Cohen’s father-in-law might face legal exposure because “that’s the money in the family.”
The president’s comments were in response to news that Cohen, who was sentenced in December to three years in prison for financial crimes, lying to Congress, and for two violations of campaign finance law, agreed to testify in front the House Oversight and Reform Committee next month.
“The president should make no statement or take any action to obstruct Congress’ independent oversight and investigative efforts including by seeking to discourage any witness from testifying in response to a duly authorized request from Congress," the statement from Cummings, Nadler and Schiff said.
Trump’s comments mark the latest in a bitter exchange between the two since Cohen flipped on his former boss, a man for whom Cohen once said he “would take a bullet,” and began cooperating with state and federal prosecutors in a handful of investigations against Trump.
After his sentencing last month, Trump lashed out at Cohen, tweeting that his former close confidant only agreed to plead guilty “in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did.”
In an interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, however, Cohen rejected Trump’s claims as “absolutely not true. I did not do it to embarrass the president,” adding that the president “knows the truth… and it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.”
Cohen’s hearing before the Oversight Committee, set for Feb. 7, was announced Thursday afternoon by Rep. Cummings. In a statement issued Thursday, Rep. Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, said he hopes to schedule his own session with Cohen behind closed doors.
Cohen is due to report to federal prison on March 6.