Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen postpones testimony to Congress, citing ‘threats’

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen is postponing his Feb. 7 testimony to the U.S. Congress because of threats against his family from Trump, his adviser said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, exits the U.S. Courthouse in New York after sentencing, December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to crimes he committed while working on Trump’s 2016 election campaign and is cooperating with investigators, had received “ongoing threats against his family from Trump” and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the adviser, attorney Lanny Davis, said in a statement.

Trump called Cohen a “rat” in a tweet last month for cooperating with prosecutors. Cohen had been Trump’s self-described longtime “fixer” and once said he would take a bullet for the New York real estate developer.

In a Fox News interview this month, Trump also suggested he had damaging information on Cohen’s father-in-law. “That’s the one that people want to look at,” Trump said in the interview.

Davis said last week: “There is no question that his threatening and calling out his father-in-law, who – quote – has all the money, is not only improper and unseemly for a bully using the bully pulpit of the presidency, but the very definition of intimidation and witness tampering.”

Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision to postpone his testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee. A new date has not been scheduled and Cohen is required to report to a federal prison in March.

During an event at the White House, Trump was asked by a reporter about Cohen saying he had been threatened by Trump and Giuliani.

“I would say he’s been threatened by the truth. He’s only been threatened by the truth. And he doesn’t want to do that probably for me or other of his clients,” Trump said. “He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”

Giuliani told Reuters that the “president’s response covers it.”

Cohen’s decision raised the possibility that the committee would issue a subpoena compelling him to testify.

Committee chairman Representative Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, declined to comment. “We’ll release a statement later,” he said.

Both Cummings and Representative Steve Lynch, who is set to chair the oversight subcommittee on national security, are considering issuing subpoenas to Cohen to testify, according to a source with knowledge of the discussion.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in December for crimes including orchestrating hush payments to women in violation of campaign laws before the 2016 election. He said in the guilty plea that he was directed to make the payments by Trump.

Cohen had volunteered to testify before the congressional panel. Davis said Cohen looked forward to testifying at a later date.

“This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first,” Davis said.

Reporting by David Alexander, Nathan Layne, Andy Sullivan, Ginger Gibson and Karen Freifeld; editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool

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