Dems May Compel Cohen to Testify After He Backs Out of Hearing, Citing Threats to Family

Michael Cohen's family, from left, his wife Laura Shusterman and children Samantha and Jake, leave federal court after Cohen was sentenced in New York on Dec. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

WASHINGTON — House Intelligence and Oversight and Reform Committee leaders are claiming witness intimidation after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen backed out of his hotly anticipated Feb. 7 public testimony, citing threats to his family.

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, said in a statement today that “this is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first.”

“Due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. Giuliani, as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen’s continued cooperation with ongoing investigations, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen’s appearance will be postponed to a later date,” Davis said, adding that Cohen thanked Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) for allowing him to appear and he “looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time.”

However, Dems might issue a subpoena to be able to catch Cohen’s testimony before he reports for his three-year prison term in March.

Asked today about the allegations from Cohen and Davis, President Trump told reporters, “I would say he’s been threatened by the truth. He’s always been threatened by the truth and he doesn’t want to do that probably for me or other of his clients. He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”

Recent public comments that Trump and Giuliani have made about Cohen’s family include Trump suggesting to Fox News in December that Cohen cut a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller “to keep his wife out of trouble” as well as his father-in-law. This past weekend, Giuliani told CNN that it was OK to go after Cohen’s father-in-law “if the father-in-law is a criminal.”

Cummings and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement that they “understand the completely legitimate concerns for the safety and security” of Cohen and his family and added that “efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members, or prevent them from testifying before Congress are textbook mob tactics that we condemn in the strongest terms.”

“We understand that Mr. Cohen’s wife and other family members fear for their safety after these attacks, and we have repeatedly offered our assistance to work with law enforcement to enhance security measures for Mr. Cohen and his family,” Cummings and Schiff said. “Nevertheless, when our Committees began discussions with Mr. Cohen’s attorney, not appearing before Congress was never an option.”

The chairmen added that they “will not let the president’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities.”

“This will not stop us from getting to the truth,” the lawmakers said. “We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances.”