Senate Opens Previously Closed Russia Hearing With Trump's Lawyer

President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen was set to have a closed Senate hearing. But after he spoke to the press, it was opened to the public.
Posted at 6:09 PM, Sep 19, 2017

President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen will likely have to testify publicly in front of Congress after a congressional committee claimed he went back on an agreement.

As part of its investigation into Russian election interference, the Senate intelligence committee reportedly agreed to interview Cohen in a closed meeting — as long as he didn't talk about the case.

But Cohen released a statement before his interview, saying, "The evidence at the conclusion of this investigation will reinforce the fact that there was no collusion between Russia, President Trump, or me."

The committee's chair and vice chair released a statement of their own, expressing their disappointment that Cohen ignored their requests. They also plan to "reschedule Mr. Cohen's appearance before the Committee in open session at a date in the near future."

The open session would give the public a look into the proceedings they previously wouldn't have gotten and could potentially increase the scrutiny on Cohen. Anyone testifying in front of Congress can face up to five years in prison for giving false statements — whether they're under oath or not.

The committee will likely ask Cohen about an email exchange with Felix Sater, a Trump associate with ties to Russia. The New York Times published a 2015 email from Sater which said, in part, "I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected."

Cohen was also in talks with Russian officials about building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the election cycle and said he discussed the project with Trump himself, contradicting Trump's previous statements about his business involvement with Russia. Cohen said it was nothing more than a business deal. It eventually fell through.

Cohen previously said he would only testify in an open session if subpoenaed, but Cohen's lawyer said he will continue to cooperate.