Senate Intelligence Committee Wants to Hear More from Cohen in Their Russia Probe

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), left, speaks with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) as they arrive in the Capitol for a vote on Aug. 16, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman and Democratic vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee want former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen back in front of their committee after his Tuesday guilty pleas to eight felonies including tax fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

While the House Intelligence Committee declared an end to their Russian campaign influence investigation months ago, the Senate panel’s work continues.

In a joint statement to reporters, Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said they “recently re-engaged” Cohen “following press reports that suggested he had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting between campaign officials and Russian lawyers at Trump Tower.” They noted he may have contradicted testimony he gave to the committee last fall with his recent statements.

Burr and Warner said they hoped his plea agreement “will not preclude his appearance before our committee as needed for our ongoing investigation.” Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, said Wednesday that he believes Cohen would be willing to testify before congressional committees without any guarantee of immunity.

Warner told MSNBC on Wednesday that he’s not sure if Cohen told the truth when he was previously before the committee.

“He testified one set of facts. We asked after we heard some of these stories whether he stood by his testimony. His lawyers said yes. But it seems like Mr. Cohen is now willing to perhaps tell all to Mueller and, I understand, to our committee. So my hope is will have a chance to have him back and ask him about that — the Trump Tower meeting,” Warner said. “Ask him about the attempt to try to build a Trump Tower in Moscow that he was very involved in. And as well — what I think may be one of the more critical questions, which at least his lawyers alluded to, that he has knowledge that Mr. Trump knew of the Russian email hacking and potentially was coordinating some of that release.”

“I don’t know what to believe,” the senator added. “Again, when you’re talking about Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump in terms of both of their willingness to tell the truth, you get into a fairly shady area.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has not granted anyone immunity in exchange for their testimony.

Warner said it’s “also important” that Cohen “talks to Mr. Mueller because clearly that’s where most of the final action about the collusion issue will be decided.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee released in July their initial bipartisan review of the 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian election interference, finding that additional evidence has surfaced to bolster the intel community’s initial assessment and also determining that no political pressure forced any conclusions from analysts.

Burr said the committee “sees no reason to dispute the conclusions” of the intelligence community, which found that Russian conducted a campaign influence operation during the 2016 presidential campaign and favored Donald Trump. That assessment did not study whether or not election results were affected by Russian meddling.

“The committee continues its investigation and I am hopeful that this installment of the committee’s work will soon be followed by additional summaries providing the American people with clarity around Russia’s activities regarding U.S. elections,” Burr said then.