Washington (ABC News) – Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, has accepted an invitation to testify in an open session before Congress next month.
“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 to ABC News, adding that he accepted the invitation “in furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers.”
The hearing, set for Feb. 7 before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, was announced Thursday afternoon by Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, who is the new chairman of the committee.
In a press release, Cummings said, “I thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily. I want to make clear that we have no interest in inappropriately interfering with any ongoing criminal investigations, and to that end, we are in the process of consulting with Special Counsel Mueller’s office. The Committee will announce additional information in the coming weeks.”
Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in federal prison for financial crimes, lying to Congress, and for two violations of campaign finance law in connection with hush money payments to two women who have claimed past affairs with Trump. He is due to report to prison in early March.
In an exclusive interview after his sentencing with ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, Cohen slammed his former boss as incapable of telling the truth and faulted his own “blind loyalty” to the president for his role in the payments to the women.
Cohen told Stephanopoulos that Trump directed him to arrange the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal because then-candidate Trump “was very concerned about how this would affect the election” if their allegations of affairs became public before voters cast their ballots.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have implicated, but not charged, the president in the deals reached in the closing weeks of the 2016 election, alleging in court filings that Cohen acted “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump.
Prosecutors also reached a non-prosecution agreement with American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, in which the tabloid admitted to making a $150,000 payment to McDougal “in concert” with the Trump campaign. Under federal law, it is illegal for corporations to make expenditures to influence an election in coordination with or at the request of a candidate or campaign.
The president has denied the affairs but has deployed shifting explanations about when he learned about the payments to the women. He has also contended that the deals were private and unrelated to the campaign, insisting that if anything illegal occurred, it was Cohen’s responsibility.
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.”
In the interview with Stephanopoulos, however, Cohen rejected Trump’s claims as “absolutely not true. I did not do it to embarrass the president,” he said.
The president, “knows the truth,” Cohen said. “I know the truth, others know the truth, and here is the truth: The people of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.”