“It is now alleged that the President of the United States directed Michael Cohen to lie under oath to Congress about these maters in an effort to impede the investigation and to cover up his business dealings with Russia,” the committee’s Chairman Adam Schiff said in a press release on Friday. “These allegations may prove unfounded, but, if true, they would constitute both the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice.”
Schiff said the committee was already working to bring witnesses to Congress to testify on the matter, as well as obtain documents on the Trump Tower Moscow deal and other investigative matters.
The lawmaker was referring to allegations in a report published on Thursday by Buzzfeed, which said Cohen has told Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller that Trump personally instructed him to lie about the timing of the negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The talks on the project, which Trump sought the Kremlin’s help in securing, continued into at least the middle of 2016, the height of the election campaign for the presidency. But as the talks were underway and Trump was campaigning for the presidency, he repeatedly made statements insisting that he had no current business dealings with Russia.
The report, which cited two federal law enforcement officials involved in the Russia investigation, said Trump ordered Cohen to tell Congress that the Trump tower talks ended months before they actually did.
Trump also backed a plan for him to visit Russia during the presidential campaign so he could meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and start negotiations on the Trump tower project, according to the report.
Cohen is set to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 7.
On January 10, Cohen said in a statement he agreed to testify publicly and looks forward to having the privilege of giving an opportunity to provide a “full and credible account” of Trumps’ relations with Russia. Last month, Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison for, among other crimes, lying to Congress in connection with Mueller’s probe into allegations of Russian election meddling and collusion with Trump’s campaign team.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia, saying the investigation is a political witch hunt that has not produced evidence in two years. Russian officials have repeatedly denied meddling in the US election, saying the allegations were invented to excuse the election loss of a presidential candidate as well as deflect public attention from actual instances of election fraud and corruption.
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