Michael Cohen to testify before House Oversight Committee

Michael Cohen

President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will testify publicly before a House committee next month in a hearing that could serve as the opening salvo of a Democratic effort to scrutinize Trump, his conflicts of interest and his ties to Russian Federation.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, also said he would be seeking a closed door hearing with Cohen.

The hearing will be February 7 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, according to a schedule published by Democratic Chairman Elijah Cummings, making the president's former "fixer" the first former Trump confidant connected to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation to cooperate with Democrats since taking control of the House.

Cohen said Thursday in a statement that he looks forward to having a platform to give a "full and credible account of the events which have transpired".

Mr Cohen has made a few public comments since he was convicted of offences including tax fraud and a campaign finance violation.

When asked about Cohen's testimony on Thursday, Trump said: "I'm not anxious".

The announcement of Cohen's testimony is the latest sign that House Democrats plan to make oversight of every aspect of Trump's life a key part of their control of the House.

"I'm not anxious about it at all", Mr Trump said of Cohen's looming testimony. Trump has denied the trysts.

After more than a decade as Trump's personal lawyer, Cohen has plenty of dirt on the president. Cohen testified that Trump had instructed him to make the payment during the 2016 presidential campaign and that he had obeyed out of "blind loyalty".

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He admitted he had paid hush money to two women who could have embarrassed Mr Trump with details of their alleged affairs with him. He said, "To that end, we are in the process of consulting with Special Counsel Mueller's office".

In the interview, Cummings compared Cohen's appearance to that of John Dean, President Richard Nixon's White House counsel, who in 1973 appeared before a special Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal in which he implicated himself, top administration officials and the president himself in a cover-up of the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Trump lashed out at Cohen after his sentencing last month, 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".

The payments made or orchestrated to women during the campaign - to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal - to stay silent about alleged sexual encounters with Trump are also sure to be a hot topic at the congressional hearing.

He pleaded guilty in August in return for a plea deal.

Cohen testified before the House intelligence panel in a closed-door hearing in 2017, before his role in the federal investigations was fully known and when Republicans controlled the committee.

Mr Cohen once professed to be so loyal to Mr Trump that he would take a bullet for his boss.

The Oversight Committee apparently isn't the Capitol Hill body with which Cohen is eager to speak. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement.

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