By Allegra Kirkland
Michael Cohen is postponing his scheduled February 7 testimony before the House Oversight Committee, citing “threats against his family” from President Trump and his allies, Cohen’s lawyer announced Wednesday.
“Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date,” Cohen representative Lanny Davis said in a statement. “Mr. Cohen wishes to thank Chairman Cummings for allowing him to appear before the House Oversight Committee and looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time.”
Trump has publicly suggested on multiple occasions that Cohen only agreed to plead guilty to financial crimes and cooperate with federal prosecutors in order to protect his father-in-law, Fima Shusterman. Trump recently suggested that investigators should look into Shusterman because “that’s the money in the family.”
Cohen was reportedly concerned that these mentions of his family members by the president could prompt Trump’s supporters to target him or his loved ones.
House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) released a joint statement calling Cohen’s safety concerns “completely legitimate.”
“As we stated previously with our colleague, Chairman Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members, or prevent them from testifying before Congress are textbook mob tactics that we condemn in the strongest terms,” the statement said.
The chairmen said that they still intended to require Cohen’s testimony at some point, saying “not appearing before Congress was never an option.”
“We will not let the President’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities,” they wrote. “This will not stop us from getting to the truth. We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances.”
Another reason why it might not make sense for Cohen to testify in the next few weeks: he’s still cooperating with multiple investigations out of the New York Attorney General’s office, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, and special counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen would likely be unable to discuss any matters related to those probes, as his statement suggests.
Two Republican members of the committee sent Cohen’s criminal defense attorney a letter on Wednesday asking for proof that their client’s testimony would be more than just a “media stunt” given these constraints.
According to those GOP lawmakers, Davis told the committee that Cohen’s testimony would focus on “his personal anecdotes about his time working for the then-private citizen Donald J. Trump, and his experiences after Mr. Trump became President.”