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Schiff Will Withhold Cohen Transcripts So The Release Won't Jeopardize Ongoing Investigations
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13 Mar 2019 04:24 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Adam Schiff (Image source: Public domain)

 

Anyone waiting to see the transcripts of Michael Cohen's closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee will have to wait a while. Committee chairman Adam Schiff says he won't release them yet out of fear of "adverse impacts to the ongoing investigation, meaning it could be some time before we read what went down.

 

We do have some idea of what was discussed in Donald Trump's former personal attorney's testimony before the panel. He appeared before three House panels over the past couple of weeks, with his appearance before the House Oversight Committee being the only public one. 

But based on the only public appearance, we know there must be very compelling testimony, perhaps even damaging to Cohen or Trump, in the testimony. In his public testimony he discussed Trump's character, that he'd lied to Congress previously, and the money Trump reimbursed him to cover the Stormy Daniels hush payment. If the testimony needed to be behind closed doors and if it's release could jeopardize the ongoing investigation, it could only be that it was further eye-opening.

 

"We would certainly like to release those transcripts as soon as we are able to, but at the same time there may be evidence in those transcripts that would prejudice the investigation if they were disclosed before we did other investigative work," explained Schiff at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. 

He has promised to make the full transcripts public, but the timing of the release will be after investigators follow up on everything Cohen mentioned. This includes interviewing others who can corroborate his testimony.

 

"Clearly, releasing the transcript might have the indirect or unintended consequence of influencing or shaping someone else's testimony," added Rep. Raja Krishanamoorthi (D-IL), who also sits on the House Intelligence Committee. 

"And so we don't want a situation where other people's testimony is somehow going to be altered because of what they read before. That's the balancing act. It's a tough one for Chairman Schiff. I think he's doing his level best to get it all redacted as soon as possible."

 

Along with his testimony, Cohen also turned over documents to prove his claim that when he lied to Congress in previous testimony about the date they stopped discussing the planned Moscow Trump Tower, it was at the insistence of another of Trump's attorneys, Jay Sekulow, and because he edited what Cohen had planned to say. 

The House Oversight testimony Schiff is interested in is Cohen's claim that he overheard a conversation between Trump and Roger Stone around the time Stone is accused of speaking with Julian Assange about releasing DNC emails on WikiLeaks to damage former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

 

"We are going to be, and have been, pursuing documents that will allow us to corroborate that testimony," he said. "We are going to be looking at any documentary evidence, and obviously that could take a number of forms, from phone records to social media records to other documentary evidence. We will be seeking evidence that will be able to either prove or disprove what people testified to." 

Schiff added that Cohen is still cooperating with his committee as well while they continue to investigate the 2016 election and Trump's businesses.

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