Democrats release Cohen testimony on his claims Trump lawyers knew he lied

The Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee voted on Monday to release transcripts of its two-day closed-door interview with former Donald Trump fixer Michael Cohen -- interviews that touched on Cohen's claim that Trump's lawyers edited his testimony and knew he lied to Congress about Trump's business ties to Russia.

Following the vote, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., released a statement about the release of the transcripts.

"With the completion of Special Counsel Mueller's work and the release of his report, it is critically important that the Committee, and the Congress, make public as much information as possible that bears on Mueller's findings, explain the evidence he uncovered, and expose the obstructive actions taken by this President and those who surround him, Schiff said. "It is in this light that the Committee today releases the transcripts of two days of interviews of Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen."

In March, Cohen told the House Oversight Committee that the president's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, changed his 2017 statement to the House and Senate intelligence committees regarding the duration of discussions about a potential Trump Tower Moscow project.

"I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false - our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign," Cohen told the committee.

"You need to know that Mr. Trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it," Cohen said.

In July 2016, then-candidate Trump said, "I have nothing to do with Russia. I don't have any jobs in Russia. I'm all over the world but we're not involved in Russia."

In March, Cohen shared documents and emails with the House Intelligence Committee to support his public statements about edits to the false statements, two sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. ABC News has not independently reviewed the nature of those edits.

Sekulow has denied Cohen's claims, calling them "completely false."

According to special counsel Robert Mueller's report, Cohen said he was instructed by Trump's attorney to keep his 2017 statement to Congress short and "tight," and that he should stay on message and not contradict Trump.

While Mueller said there was evidence that Trump was aware of Cohen's false statements to Congress, "the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen's false testimony," according to his report.

In his 2017 statements to Congress, Cohen said discussions about the Moscow project ended in January 2016, though they continued through the summer of 2016, after Trump had become the Republican nominee for president.

Federal prosecutors in Mueller's office later wrote that Cohen also sought to "minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1," referring to then-candidate Trump.

The House Intelligence Committee has since sent letters to attorneys representing members of Trump and his family members' legal teams in an effort to investigate the attorneys' involvement in drafting Cohen's false statement.

Trump's lawyers have pushed back against the request and argued that demands by the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, for information would force them to violate attorney-client privilege.

Since March, Schiff has exchanged a series of letters with attorneys representing members of Trump's legal team. News of the nascent investigation and Schiff's letters to the attorneys was first reported Tuesday by the New York Times.

Earlier this month Cohen reported to prison in New York to begin his three-year sentence, after an unsuccessful effort to delay his surrender to prison.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2018, and to campaign finance violations and tax and bank fraud.
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