President Trump’s personal attorney on Tuesday lashed out at a Trump-Russia dossier that has fed conspiracy theories by Democrats and influenced the FBI, saying the document is “riddled with total falsehoods.”
Michael Cohen also said he was as close to President Trump as anyone during the campaign and never witnessed any collusion with Russia, as liberals constantly allege.
Mr. Cohen released the statement to news outlets as he was about to appear in private before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“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,” wrote Sens. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, and Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat.
“The Committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith with the Senate,” the panel chairman and ranking Democrat also wrote, a move some observers said was a warning to future witnesses to stay in line.
In the leaked opening statement, Mr. Cohen had planned to blast White House opponents in his private Capitol Hill meeting for “choosing to presume guilt — rather than presuming innocence” in the entire Russia saga — in addition to rebutting accusations levied against him in the infamous anti-Trump dossier.
The dossier was financed by a backer of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and ordered last June by Glenn R. Simpson, a liberal opposition research specialist who runs Fusion GPS. Mr. Simpson hired an ex-British spy, Christopher Steele, to prove that Russian hacking of Democrat Party computers was actively aided by the Trump campaign.
The problem for Mr. Simpson and Mr. Steele is that major allegations in the dossier have been disproved or placed in doubt. All Mr. Steele’s major accusations conveyed by unnamed Kremlin sources have been denied.
Such is the case with Mr. Cohen.
The dossier, posted by BuzzFeed in January, makes the sensational charge that Mr. Cohen traveled to Prague last summer to meet with Russian agents and organize payoffs to cover up the supposed Russia-Trump hacking.
But he quickly showed Mr. Trump and the media his passport, which contained no trip to Prague. He also showed evidence of his itinerary for visiting his son in California at the time Mr. Steele said he was conspiring with Russians.
“I am here today to reiterate my own innocence regarding the false allegations raised against me,” Mr. Cohen said in his prepared statement. “What I seek is the Committee making a public conclusion about the truth or falsity of the allegations that follow.
“My reputation was damaged … when BuzzFeed published an unverified dossier prepared by a retired British spy — Christopher Steele — that was riddled with total falsehoods and intentionally salacious accusations.
“In my opinion, the hired spy didn’t find anything factual, so he threw together a shoddily written and totally fabricated report filled with lies and rumors.
“My name is mentioned more than a dozen times in the lie-filled-dossier and so within moments of BuzzFeed’s publication, false allegations about me were plastered all over the national and international press. The accusations are entirely and totally false.”
“I might also add that I only have one passport (a United States Passport). I have to say that to you today — that I only have one passport — because another media outlet suggested that — as a Jew — I must also have an Israeli passport! Aside from such an allegation being incredibly offensive, it is also totally wrong,” Mr. Cohen’s statement read.
Nevertheless, speaking to reporters immediately after the hearing was canceled, Mr. Cohen’s attorney pledged cooperation with investigators.
“We will come back for a voluntary interview whenever we can to meet with them, and we look forward to voluntarily cooperating with the House committee and with anyone else who has an inquiry in this area,” lawyer Steve Ryan said.
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