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Cohen returns for new closed-door hearing with House lawmakers

© Greg Nash Cohen returns for new closed-door hearing with House lawmakers

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is returning to Capitol Hill Wednesday to continue his closed-door interview before the House Intelligence Committee, one week after his blockbuster public testimony against President Trump.

His return appearance behind closed doors comes as House Democrats are readying broad probes into Trump and his administration, some of which involve Cohen and stem from allegations of criminal conduct he made last week.

Cohen, who has cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, claimed that Trump knew in advance that WikiLeaks was planning to dump hacked Democratic emails that could hurt the Clinton campaign, after listening in on a phone call between his longtime friend Roger Stone and WikiLeaks. Stone has denied his account.

Cohen said, however, that he had no direct knowledge of collusion between Trump or his campaign and the Kremlin.

Cohen also went into greater detail about talks within the Trump Organization to build a Trump property in Moscow during the 2016 campaign. He told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that he briefed Trump and his family on the project a half-dozen times between January and June 2016 and that those discussions included Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in earlier testimony about the deal.

Cohen also suggested his 2017 congressional testimony about the length of the project discussions was edited after Trump's attorneys reviewed it. The president's lawyer Jay Sekulow vehemently denied that Trump's attorneys edited or changed the statement to alter the duration of the discussions surrounding the proposed Trump property in Moscow.

Questions about potential pardon talks could come also up.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Cohen's attorney at the time approached the president's lawyers about a possible pardon after the April 2018 raid on Cohen's office, home and hotel room.

The Washington Post reported late last week that the Senate and House Intelligence committees privately questioned Cohen on whether he had discussions about the potential for a pardon.

Little is known about what Intelligence lawmakers learned from Cohen during eight hours of testimony he gave behind closed doors last week.

Cohen morphed into a likely congressional witness after he pleaded guilty to a series of crimes last year and implicated Trump in a scheme to pay off women who alleged affairs with him before the 2016 election.

Democrats stepped up their pressure for Cohen to return to Capitol Hill after he pleaded guilty to lying to both the House and Senate Intelligence committees last November.

Cohen is the first of several witnesses that the House Intelligence panel is expected to call in the course of its revived and expanded investigation into Russian interference. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced last week that the committee would hold a rare open hearing with former Trump business associate Felix Sater on the defunct Trump Moscow project on March 14.

Olivia Beavers and Morgan Chalfant | The Hill

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