Michael Cohen, the ex-Trump fixer who has been sentenced to three years in prison, arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first of three congressional hearings this week where he is expected to testify against his former boss.
Cohen’s testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee is taking place behind closed doors. On Wednesday, Cohen is testifying before the House Oversight Committee, which will be open. On Thursday, Cohen appears behind closed doors for a House Intelligence Committee interview.
As he entered the hearing room Tuesday, Cohen did not answer questions from reporters about why he should be trusted. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Cohen pleaded guilty to previously lying to Congress about Trump’s past business dealings in Russia, among other crimes.
The White House, in a statement Tuesday, sought to portray Cohen as a liar.
“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”
Asked by reporters Tuesday what he hopes to hear from Cohen, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., replied: “Truth.” But Burr added that Cohen has got a questionable track record, when asked if he could believe Cohen or not.
Democrats said ahead of the hearing they want to press Cohen about Trump’s past business endeavors in Russia.
“Because we know that Donald Trump, during his campaign, said ‘I have no interest in Russia’ but that's yet another one of his total lies,” Senate Judiciary Committee member Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said Monday.
Cohen worked for Trump’s business for years before Trump ran for president, serving as the president’s personal lawyer and counselor.
According to a recent memo sent out by committee staff, Cohen's appearance before the House oversight panel will concern various financial issues related to the 2016 presidential campaign, including payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal that federal prosecutors in New York say were directed by Trump. The hearing will also examine whether Trump has complied with campaign finance and tax laws, his ties to the Trump International Hotel in Washington and "potential and actual conflicts of interest."
A person with knowledge of Cohen’s planned testimony before the House Oversight Committee told the Wall Street Journal that Cohen will publicly accuse Trump of criminal conduct in relation to the hush-money payments.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Cohen will accuse Trump in his testimony of inflating or deflating his net worth at times to avoid property taxes.
Cohen will not be questioned about the ongoing investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller or the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Last week, a federal judge approved Cohen's request to push back the date he is scheduled to report to federal prison by two months. Cohen's attorneys had pushed for the postponement, saying he had recently undergone shoulder surgery and needed the extra time to complete physical therapy as well as his congressional testimony.
Cohen was originally scheduled to report to jail on March 6 to begin serving a three-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance and other violations last year. He is now scheduled to report to jail May 6.
In December, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a deal.
The charges against Cohen arose from two separate investigations – one by federal prosecutors in New York, and the other by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Both cases hold potential implications for Trump. Cohen's admission in the former to breaking the law in making hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign to two women who claimed affairs with Trump has raised questions about whether prosecutors may eventually pursue charges against the president. Cohen said he did so at Trump's direction.
Speaking in court in December before the judge issued the sentence, Cohen said “blind loyalty” to Trump led him “to take a path of darkness instead of light.”
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Mike Emanuel, Jason Donner and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.