Michael Cohen cites Trump threats in postponing congressional testimony

January 23, 2019

A spokesman for Michael Cohen said Wednesday that President Trump’s long-time fixer will postpone his scheduled appearance before Congress next month.

Lanny Davis, who represents Cohen, said in a statement that the Feb. 7 hearing has been canceled, citing verbal attacks on Cohen and his relatives by Mr. Trump and the president’s attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

“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,” Mr. Davis said in the statement.

Cohen was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee at the request of Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat and chairman of the committee.

Mr. Trump on Friday tweeted that Cohen was “lying to reduce his jail time,” when he implicated the president in hush-money payments to silence two women.

“Watch father-in-law!” Mr. Trump added at the end of the tweet, one of several references he’s made to Cohen’s father-in-law since his former personal attorney began cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Earlier this month, Mr. Trump told Fox News that Cohen should give Congress information on his father-in-law, “because that’s the one that people want to look at.”

Mr. Giuliani defended the president’s comments and suggested Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, has ties to organized crime. In 1993, Shusterman pleaded guilty to federal income-tax fraud relating to his New York taxicab business, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

But Mr. Davis said over the weekend the president had stoked “genuine fear,” and it was causing Mr. Cohen to rethink his decision to testify.

Several top House Democrats on Sunday accused Mr. Trump of witness intimidation, suggesting that his comments were an effort to obstruct Cohen’s testimony.

Reps. Adam Schiff, California, Jerry Nadler, New York, and Mr. Cummings issued a joint statement rebuking the president for his digs at Cohen.

“Our nation’s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress,” the statement said.