Michael Cohen is not only Trump’s personal lawyer but one of his closest confidants. He is now a focus in the ever-expanding congressional investigation into the Russian influence over the 2016 election.
House-Senate investigators have asked him “to provide information and testimony” regarding his contacts with anyone connected to the Russian government.
Cohen has turned down the invitation to the party.
“I declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad, and not capable of being answered,” he told ABC News in an email.
After Cohen’s rejection, a unanimous vote from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee will grant the committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Mark Warner authority to issue any subpoenas they need.
As Trump’s personal attorney, Cohen weighs in on Trump’s behalf via interviews and Twitter.
After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Cohen tweeted, “I believe @POTUS was justified in terminating #Comey as @FBI director. #RT if you agree with me!”
Cohen’s other positions have him in powerful positions. He is deputy national finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He has an influence on how monies are allocated to Republican candidates. He also is aligned with Patton Briggs, a powerful D.C. lobbying firm–whose clients include Gasprombank, Russia’s third-largest bank.
Renewed interest in Cohen by the Senate probe brings up issues such as being named in the dossier report prepared by a former British intelligence agent. There are a number of unconfirmed allegations that Cohen was an instrument of the Russians in the hacking of the DNC computers during the 2016 campaign.
However, some claims in that report have been shown as false. ABC News debunked the assertion that Cohen’s Ukrainian born father-in-law had a vacation home (dacha) near Putin’s home.
“I don’t even think my father-in-law has ever been to Moscow,” Cohen told ABC News. “I wonder who’s living in the dacha.”
He denies the report’s assertion that he met with the Russians in Prague last August. Trump went to bat for Cohen saying that he saw Cohen’s passport that would indicate otherwise.
“I said, ‘I want to see your passport.’ He brings his passport to my office. I say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. He didn’t leave the country. He wasn’t out of the country.’ They had Michael Cohen of the Trump Organization was in Prague. It turned out to be a different Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace that took place. It’s a disgrace, and I think they ought to apologize to start with Michael Cohen.”
“I’ve never actually walked the land in Prague,” Cohen told ABC News. “And last August I was not in Prague.”
However, Democrats are not convinced. Cohen was vacationing in Italy at the time and could have entered Prague without a stamp.
So far, out of four Trump campaign advisers who are people of interest, only one has received a subpoena for records. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, cited his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to provide the documents.