NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was granted a few more weeks of freedom Wednesday after his lawyers said he’s still recovering from surgery and hasn’t had time to get his affairs in order because he’s preparing to testify before Congress next week.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III approved delaying the start of Cohen’s three-year sentence until May 6. Cohen’s lawyer said he was undergoing intensive post-surgery physical therapy and spending substantial time getting ready for testimony he’s scheduled to deliver to three congressional committees.
The House Oversight and Reform committee said Wednesday night that Cohen would testify publicly on Feb. 27. Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a memo that Cohen would be questioned about issues related to Trump’s business practices, presidential campaign and embattled charitable foundation, including any payments relating to efforts to influence the 2016 election.
Cohen is scheduled to speak to the House Intelligence committee behind closed doors on Feb. 28. That hearing will focus on issues related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Both panels are run by Democrats. It is unclear when he will give closed-door testimony to the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence committee, which has subpoenaed him.
“Despite @RealDonaldTrump attacks against his family, Mr. Cohen will not be deterred, will speak about his decade long experiences working for Mr. Trump, his own mistakes and decision to put family and country first,” Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis tweeted after the rescheduled hearing was announced.
“Congress has an independent duty under the Constitution to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch, and any efforts to intimidate family members or pressure witnesses will not be tolerated,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted.
Cohen postponed his first date with the House Oversight committee, scheduled for Feb. 7, citing threats from Trump and the president’s attorney-spokesman Rudy Giuliani. A closed-door interview before the House Intelligence committee was then postponed “in the interests of the investigation,” Chairman Adam Schiff said.
Last week, Cohen’s lawyers said he was delaying his Senate testimony “due to post-surgery medical needs.”
Cohen, 52, was spotted last month in New York City wearing a hospital ID bracelet and with his right arm in a sling after his lawyer said he’d undergone minor shoulder surgery.
Prosecutors did not object to a “one-time” 60-day delay from the original date Cohen was supposed to report to prison, March 6, Cohen’s lawyers said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said Wednesday that prosecutors declined to comment.
Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the Senate intelligence committee and campaign finance violations.
Cohen acknowledged lying to the committee about his role in a Trump business proposal in Moscow. He told lawmakers he had abandoned the project in January 2016, but he actually continued pursuing it for months after that.
He also pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for his involvement in payments to a former Playboy model and porn actress who had alleged affairs with Trump.
In a letter requesting the delay dated Wednesday, Cohen attorney Michael D. Monico cited a “more fulsome letter” sent to Pauley eight days ago by Cohen that was sealed. Monico said in Wednesday’s letter that Cohen needs to be monitored by his physician during his recovery.
Cohen’s congressional testimony “will require Mr. Cohen to spend substantial time in preparation that will limit the time he has to get his affairs in order and spend time with his family, especially given such a short period between the anticipated hearings and the present reporting date,” Monico wrote.
After the delay request was granted, Monico and fellow Cohen lawyers Barry Spevack and Lanny Davis issued a statement saying the extra time will allow Cohen to “prepare for the expected testimony next week before congressional committees, which he welcomes.”
Associated Press reporters Mary Clare Jalonick and Chad Day in Washington contributed to this report.
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