05:38 GMT09 April 2020
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    US President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen appears to be the US House’s main source of dirt on the president and his lawyers. Following groundbreaking testimony before the House Oversight Committee in February, the Intelligence Committee conducted a series of interviews with the former attorney behind closed doors.

    The US House Intelligence Committee published transcripts of the private interviews between Cohen, lawmakers and a member of the Trump team, The New York Times reported Monday. The panel voted 12-7 Monday evening, according to the Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.

    "The public should judge for themselves both the evidence released today in conjunction with Cohen's testimony related to Trump, his troubling relationship with Russia, and the efforts by Trump and those close to him to hide the relationship and potential business deals," committee chairman and House Representative Adam B. Schiff of California said in a statement.

    "The public also deserves the chance to judge Cohen's credibility for themselves, including by examining some of the evidence he provided," Schiff asserted.

    In addition to the nearly 650-paged transcript, the committee disclosed material the former lawyer presented during his interviews.

    ​Earlier in February, Cohen accused US President Donald Trump of "a pattern of lies, crimes and deception" during public testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Private interviews with the Intelligence Committee followed his testimony.

    Democrats then used Cohen's testimony as a basis for opening new investigations into Trump, while Republicans dismissed Cohen as a "liar whose statements cannot be trusted," according to the Times.

    Cohen, after pleading guilty in November 2018, is currently serving a three-year sentence in prison over charges of bank fraud, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress in 2017. Cohen has given false testimony regarding Trump's real estate project in Moscow, according to Nytimes.com.

    The vote came almost a week after it was revealed that the panel has been investigating whether attorneys connected to Trump and his family helped to obstruct the investigation by editing or shaping Cohen's testimony, according to The Hill.

    Speaking to the Intelligence Committee, Cohen insisted that Trump's lawyers "dangled" a possible pardon in front of him to ensure that he stayed loyal — a claim denied by the same lawyers. According to Cohen, it was Trump's lawyers who helped to shape and edit a false statement he gave to Congress regarding Trump's Moscow project in 2017 — a claim the president's lawyers also deny.

    Chairman Schiff conducted an investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump's lawyers — one of a number of concurrent investigations House Democrats are waging against the US president.

    The White House accused the panel of "overreaching" and trying to score political points ahead of the upcoming 2020 elections, The Hill notes.

    The ongoing investigations are seen as part of a power struggle between the White House and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, as Democrats seek to damage a Republican president ahead of next year's elections.


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    transcript, testimony, US House Intelligence Committee, Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, United States
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