Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen was set to voluntarily testify today before the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors about his role in the Trump-Russia scandal. But after he made a last minute move that went against the Senate’s wishes, it decided to cancel his private testimony and subpoena him to testify in public instead.
The controversy began when Cohen violated his agreement with the Senate by releasing a statement to the media declaring his innocence just before his testimony was set to take place. This prompted the Senate committee to decide that, because Cohen was speaking publicly about his testimony, he shouldn’t be allowed to testify in private. It promptly sent him home – but his respite will be a very brief one.
Manu Raju of CNN has revealed that “Senate Intel now playing hardball with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen: Now plan OPEN session for Cohen to testify publicly” (link), while NBC News is confirming that he’s being subpoenaed to force him to deliver that public testimony (link). If Cohen defies the subpoena, the Senate can find him to be in contempt of Congress. At that point a judge would have to decide whether Cohen can be legally compelled to show up and testify. This comes even as the Trump-Russia scandal is exploding in every direction over the past twenty-four hours.
Last night it was revealed that Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has been under a secret surveillance warrant the entire time, and that he’s about to be indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Based on the timing of the warrant, it’s believed that Trump was picked up on Manafort’s wiretap when the two regularly spoke by phone after Trump took office. Meanwhile, Michael Cohen is about to be compelled to blab in public about his own role in the scandal.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report