Senate Intel Committee Cancels Cohen Interview After He Goes Public

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Cohen is schedule to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The leaders of Senate Intelligence Committee announced that they canceled a closed-door interview with Michael Cohen, an attorney and a confidante of President Trump’s, due to his decision to release a public statement ahead of the planned meeting Tuesday morning.

“We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today’s interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with Committee staff, in spite of the Committee’s requests that he refrain from public comment,” Intel Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) said in a statement.

Burr and Warner added that they planned to reschedule Cohen’s appearance in an “open session,” meaning that now Cohen will be asked to testify publicly due to his indiscretion.

More than an hour after heading into a Senate Intel committee meeting room Tuesday morning, Cohen and his attorney, Stephen Ryan, emerged and told reporters staked out there that the committee had decided to postpone Cohen’s appearance.

Ryan, in his short statement, alluded to leaked details about the meeting and said they decided to release Cohen’s statement after the plans for Cohen’s appearance became public.

“We will come back for a voluntary interview whenever we can,” Ryan said, adding that Cohen intended to cooperate with the House Intel committee and whatever other entities inquire of him.

Ryan called the statement from Cohen that they released “factual” and “accurate.”

“It was respectful and we stand behind that statement,” he said.

In the statement, Cohen said that he “never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else” to “hack anyone or any organization” or to “interfere with the election.”

He denied specifically working with the Russian federation to hack Democratic Party computers or to create fake news stories to influence the presidential campaign.

“Given my own proximity to the President of the United States as a candidate, let me also say that I never saw anything – not a hint of anything – that demonstrated his involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russian collusion,” his statement said.

Cohen’s statement went on to bash the so-called dossier that had been compiled on behalf of GOP and then Democratic donors that included allegations against Cohen as “riddled with total falsehoods and intentionally salacious accusations.”

His statement also addressed the Moscow Trump tower deal he worked on that eventually fell through. “This was solely a real estate deal and nothing more. I was doing my job,” he said, while noting the deal had been “terminated” in January 2016 “before the Iowa caucus and months before the very first primary.”