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Trump attorney Cohen to meet with Hill investigators this week

Trump attorney Cohen to meet with Hill investigators this week
Posted at 8:38 PM, Oct 23, 2017

President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen plans to meet privately with the House and Senate intelligence panels this week as part of their ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the US election, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

Cohen's planned meeting comes after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence delayed a highly anticipated public appearance Wednesday -- a session many believe was an attempt by the Senate panel to punish the Trump attorney after his originally scheduled testimony was abruptly canceled. His public session is still expected to happen at a later date.

Cohen now will meet in private with members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Tuesday, before a classified session with Senate intelligence committee staff investigators Wednesday, sources told CNN. The sessions amount to his first extended appearances behind closed doors on Capitol Hill and make him the latest Trump associate to face a grilling from congressional investigators.

Reached for comment Monday, Cohen declined to answer questions about the appearances. He referred the matter to his attorney, who could not be reached.

Cohen was originally scheduled to be interviewed behind closed doors in September. But committee leaders abruptly scrapped the interview after Cohen arrived and gave a written opening statement to the media. They demanded he come in for a public hearing instead because they said Cohen "decided to pre-empt today's interview."

A spokeswoman for Senate intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr did not immediately respond for requests to comment on why the committee went back to the private interview. Burr himself declined to answer any questions Monday. A spokeswoman for the committee's vice chairman, Sen. Mark Warner, also declined to comment.

"What we do is behind closed doors," Burr said the day Cohen's interview was postponed. "We don't expect individuals who come behind closed doors to publicly go out and tell (their side only)."

On Friday, Burr and Warner announced that the public hearing had been postponed, saying it would be "rescheduled at a later date," and they did not elaborate. "The Committee appreciates Mr. Cohen's cooperation as its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US elections continues to make progress," the senators said.

Burr has said that the committee has told the witnesses who have come in for staff interviews that they could be called back for additional sessions, open or closed.

In his statement prepared for the committee in September, Cohen denied participating in any collusion with the Russians to help Trump get elected, and he denied participating in any effort to "hack anyone or any organization."

But Cohen has faced scrutiny after it was revealed this summer he had previously pursued a proposed major project for a Trump Tower Moscow, reaching out to high levels of the Kremlin to gauge interest in the project -- while the presidential campaign was well underway. The project was abandoned in January 2016, and Cohen told the Senate panel in a written statement that he lost confidence in the idea, downplaying the matter as just a proposal.

Cohen's name has also come up in a 35-page dossier prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, a document that included an accusation that he traveled to Prague to meet with the Russians. But Cohen has said he's never been to Prague or the Czech Republic, saying his reputation was damaged by the meritless accusations.

Also on Tuesday, the House intelligence committee plans to interview Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign's digital director, according to a source familiar with the matter. Parscale declined to comment about the appearance.