- The Washington Times
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Michael Cohen returned to Congress Wednesday as Republicans demanded answers on whether Democrats coached his bombshell public testimony last week before the House Oversight Committee.

Cohen on Wednesday spoke for a second time with members of the House Intelligence Committee in a less than a week. Both Cohen and lawmakers were buttoned up about what discussed during the closed-door meeting.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, California Democrat, called the session “enormously productive,” but offered scant details. Mr. Schiff did say Cohen provided the committee with documents, but declined to provide further information.

Some media outlets reported Wednesday that Cohen provided committee members with documents that reveal alleged editing to the statement he used to lie to Congress in 2017 about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Neither Mr. Schiff nor Cohen confirmed if they were among the documents he turned over.

During his public testimony last week, Cohen said “several changes” were made to the statement, including edits made by Jay Sekulow, a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team. Mr. Sekulow has denied Cohen’s allegation, calling it “completely false.”

Cohen told lawmakers the project had been abandoned in early 2016, but it had been advancing through the mid-stages of the presidential campaign. That statement is among the pled guilty to last year. He starts a three-year jail sentence on May 6.

Next week, the same committee is set to hold a public hearing with Felix Sater, a Russian businessman who worked with Cohen to build the Trump Tower project.

The committee appeared to be embroiled with partisan bickering on the same day of Cohen’s appearance. One member, Rep. Mike Turner, Ohio Republican, accused Mr. Schiff of coaching Cohen in the run-up to his public hearing.

Mr. Turner sent a letter to Cohen demanding details about his contacts with Mr. Schiff and members of his staff. During his testimony last week, Cohen told lawmakers he had spoken with Mr. Schiff and “his people,” along with House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat.

Cohen insisted that he only consulted with his lawyers in preparation for the meeting, however.

“The answers to these questions are important for the public to understand whether or not they were watching witness testimony, a public hearing or a well-rehearsed theater,” Mr. Turner said in the letter.

Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Mr. Schiff, said it is “completely appropriate” to meet with witnesses ahead of testimony to discuss any relevant topics.

“Despite this professed outrage by Republicans, it’s completely appropriate to conduct proffer sessions and allow witnesses to review their prior testimony before the Committee interviews them — such sessions are a routine part of every serious investigation around the country, including congressional investigations,” he said in a statement.

Cohen’s appearance came on the day he was supposed to being a three-year sentence for tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations. That has now been pushed back by two months.

The campaign finance violations relate to hush money payments Cohen arranged to two women — adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal — to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Mr. Trump.

The president has denied the affair.

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