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House Intelligence Probing Whether Trump's Attorneys and Family Tried to Obstruct Russia Investigation
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15 May 2019 04:05 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Michael Cohen (Image source: Screenshot)

 

Michael Cohen's testimony before Congress was so explosive that it's taking a couple of months to work through everything that he disclosed. Amazingly, before he left for prison last week, he volunteered that there are even more explosive details that he hasn't yet revealed.

 

After previously pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, as well as other charges, a few months later the former personal attorney to Donald Trump pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He had said previously that any talk of a potential Trump Tower in Moscow had ended in January 2016, yet in reality, discussions went on for several more months. 

In his more recent testimony to Congress, he explained the reason for his lie. Trump, then a presidential candidate, needed that January 2016 date to work, as he had stated in February he had no business at all with Russia.

 

Cohen explained that he was told to lie by Trump's attorneys. They took his written testimony and made edits to make the dates work. Additionally, he indicated two of Trump's adult children knew about the continuing business in Moscow and that they were included. 

Previously, the focus was on the actual business with Moscow, but now the focus is on who knew and when, who told Cohen to lie and why.

 

The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether Trump's legal team and his family obstructed the Russia investigation by engineering testimony from witnesses, including Cohen. But it turns out this is an investigation they've been working on all along. 

Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent detailed requests for documents on March 14 to attorneys Abbe Lowell, Alan Futerfas, Alan Garten, and Jay Sekulow. They represent Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., the Trump Organization, and the president, respectively.

 

"As part of its investigation of foreign influence in the U.S. political process during and since the 2016 U.S election," wrote Schiff, his panel is "investigating efforts to obstruct authorized into these matters, including any attempt to impede, obstruct, and/or mislead the committee." 

Lawyers representing the attorneys dismissed the document requests in a letter that was sent to Schiff and Ranking Member Devin Nunes on April 5.

 

"Although the Committee has important responsibilities over this country's intelligence agencies, we are at a loss to see how that charge justifies your sweeping and unprecedented requests to our clients," wrote the attorneys. 

Schiff referred to the legal team's objections in a May 3 letter as "without merit" and set a deadline of May 10 for the documents to be delivered. This deadline was not honored.

 

He wrote that the committee "had a good faith basis to believe ... your clients ... may have engaged in efforts intended to obstruct authorized investigations." 

"Among other things," he continued, "it appears that your clients may have reviewed, shaped, and edited the false statement that Cohen submitted to the committee, including the omission of material facts.

 

"In addition, certain of your clients may have engaged in discussions about potential pardons in an effort to deter one or more witnesses from cooperating with authorized investigations." 

There has been much talk of whether a pardon was suggested to Cohen and who started the talk, whether it was dangled in front of him or whether he asked about it.

 

A spokesperson for the Intelligence Committee said they would be "negligent" if they didn't pursue thee leads from Cohen's testimony as well as material evidence they claim to have. 

"Material in the committee's possession, as well as Michael Cohen's committee testimony and admissions to the special counsel's office," said the spokesperson, "raise serious, unresolved concerns about the obstruction of our committee's investigation that we would be negligent not to pursue."

 

"If any individual is allowed to lie to our committee or encourage others to do so, hide behind inapplicable privileges, or otherwise fail to provide anything less than full cooperation, other witnesses will be emboldened to similarly obstruct, both now and in the future. We must not allow that to happen," continued the spokesperson. 

Cohen is one week into serving a three-year prison sentence. He admitted to several crimes in connection with his time representing Trump and being his "fixer." However, Trump has somehow remained off the hook from these crimes.

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