Two Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are urging Michael Cohen’s attorney to prove that his client’s upcoming February 7 public testimony before the committee won’t just be a “media stunt.”
In a Tuesday letter, House Freedom Caucus Members Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) asked Guy Petrillo for firm answers on the scope of Cohen’s testimony, claiming that Cohen’s public relations representative in the probe, Lanny Davis, cautioned that much of what Cohen can say will be restricted by his cooperation with multiple ongoing investigations.
The congressmen write that Davis told GOP committee staff that he “pushed” Cohen to testify, saying “this was my idea; nobody’s else.”
Jordan and Meadows, both close allies of President Trump, cast the hearing as a made-for-TV effort by “Clinton consigliere” Davis and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to get Cohen to share unflattering anecdotes about Trump in a public setting.
“I offered to brief the minority staff to show a spirit of bipartisanship, encouraged by the Chairman’s office,” Davis said in a statement provided to TPM. “I offered on Mr. Cohen’s behalf for Mr. Cohen to speak with Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan out of courtesy and the same spirit of bipartisanship, and we have not heard back. Furthermore, I am proud of my past association with President and Mrs. Clinton. There is no conflict of interest in my representation of Mr. Cohen. Beyond that, I will not dignify the unwarranted attack by Mr. Jordan as to my motives.”
An oversight committee aide told TPM that precautions were being taken to ensure that Cohen does not improperly divulge information about criminal investigations, but that his testimony will still be useful.
“There is obviously widespread interest in hearing directly from Mr. Cohen, including from some—but not all—Republicans,” the aide said in a statement. “As Chairman Cummings explained in his statement announcing the hearing, the Committee is in the process of consulting with the Office of Special Counsel about the scope of the hearing, but the Committee will not inappropriately interfere with the ongoing criminal investigation.”
Cohen himself has said he hopes the hearing will allow him to further his “commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers.” Though, the former Trump attorney reportedly has had some second thoughts about testifying out of concern for the safety of his family members.
Exactly what he is allowed to divulge will be limited by his assistance to investigations from the New York Attorney General’s office, the special counsel, and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, as Jordan and Meadows point out.
The two Republicans said that Davis told them the hearing will likely be “unsatisfying” and “frustrating” for the committee as they seek to carry out their work “overseeing the functioning, efficiency, and effectiveness of the federal government.” They suggested that Democrats on the committee know the hearing will not reveal new information but scheduled it regardless.
“According to Davis, the sole purpose of Cohen’s appearance before the Committee is to allow Cohen to share his personal anecdotes about his time working for the then-private citizen Donald J. Trump, and his experiences after Mr. Trump became President,” Meadows and Jordan write.
Read the full letter below.
This post has been updated to include comment from Davis.