Trump Lawyer Releases Statement Prior to Interview with Senate Intelligence Committee, so They Cancel It
The Senate intelligence committee canceled a scheduled meeting with President Trump’s attorney Michael D. Cohen on Tuesday, before he could deliver a prepared statement that categorically denied any collusion with Russia by him or the president.
Cohen had released his prepared statement to several news outlets in advance of his appearance, which upset the committee’s leaders, who said they had requested he refrain from public comment.
“We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today’s interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with Committee staff, in spite of the Committee’s requests that he refrain from public comment.
“As a result, we declined to move forward with today’s interview and will reschedule Mr. Cohen’s appearance before the Committee in open session at a date in the near future. The Committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith with the Senate,” said a joint statement from committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA).
The meeting was canceled after Cohen arrived to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. Burr and Warner later announced they have invited Cohen to appear before the committee for a hearing open to the public on October 26.
According to the statement Cohen had released, he explicitly denied any collusion with Russia by him, as well as disputed allegations made about him in a dossier reportedly used by the FBI to obtain wiretaps on Trump campaign members.
“I’m certain that the evidence at the conclusion of this investigation will reinforce the fact that there was no collusion between Russia, President Trump or me,” he said.
Cohen was not expected to be under oath during the meeting, but witnesses appearing before congressional committees are required to tell the truth or potentially face criminal charges, according to a report by CNN.
Cohen issued a clear denial of any collusion by him or the president in his statement:
I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to hack anyone or any organization.
I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to hack or interfere with the election.
I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to hack Democratic Party computers; and I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to create fake news stories to assist the Trump campaign or to damage the Clinton campaign.
Given my own proximity to the President of the United States as a candidate, let me also say that I never saw anything – not a hint of anything – that demonstrated his involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion.
I emphatically state that I had nothing to do with any Russian involvement in our electoral process.
Additionally, he said that if the activities attributed to Russia were found to be true, he would consider them “an offense to our democracy.”
Cohen also criticized those who want to politicize the issue of Russian interference, “so as to discredit our lawfully elected President in the public eye and shame his supporters in the public square.”
“This is un-American,” he said.
Cohen then called the dossier — created as opposition research to Trump, paid for by undisclosed anti-Trump donors and published by Buzzfeed in December 2016 — “riddled with total falsehoods and intentionally salacious accusations.”
“In my opinion, the hired spy didn’t find anything factual, so he threw together a shoddily written and totally fabricated report filled with lies and rumors. The New York Post recently noted that much of the information in the dossier appeared at points to be copied from the internet; with typographical errors included,” he said in the statement.
Cohen noted his name was mentioned more than a dozen times, and the allegations about him are “entirely and totally false.”
He pointed to one of the allegations that said he had traveled to Prague to meet with Russians regarding interfering with the election. He said he was actually in Los Angeles with his son, visiting the University of Southern California,” and discussing his future.
The statement went on:
I have never in my life been to Prague or to anywhere in the Czech Republic. I might also add that I only have one passport (a United States Passport). I have to say that to you today – that I only have one passport – because another media outlet suggested that – as a Jew – I must also have an Israeli passport!
Aside from such an allegation being incredibly offensive, it is also totally wrong. Let me tell you where I was on the day the dossier said I was in Prague.
I was in Los Angeles with my son who dreams of playing division 1 baseball next year at a prestigious university like USC. We were visiting the campus, meeting with various coaches, and discussing his future. Media sources have been able to confirm these facts and I can provide you with proof.
He said his family has been subjected to insults and threats, despite not being a private citizen and not a government official.
He also brought up his effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, which he said was terminated in January 2016, and was “solely a real estate deal and nothing more,” and asked that a prior statement to the committee in August be entered into the meeting record.
“I’m very proud to have served Donald J. Trump for all these years, and I’ll continue to support him,” he said.
“If we really are concerned about a Russian attempt to divide our country and discredit our political system then the best thing we can do is put aside our infighting, stop presuming guilt rather than innocence of American citizens, and address this national security threat as a united people at its source. Otherwise, the priorities of the American people will continue to be neglected, and the Russians will use our distraction to continue to harm us from the shadows while we harm each other in front of the camera lights,” he concluded.