Trump lawyer in marathon Hill grilling over Russia probe

Trump lawyer in marathon Hill grilling over Russia probe
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President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, returned to the Hill on Wednesday for a second day of marathon testimony before congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the election.

He stepped into the Senate Intelligence Committee’s secure spaces early Wednesday morning and did not emerge until after 5 p.m.

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The appearance followed a Tuesday session with the House Intelligence Committee that lasted almost six hours.

Cohen is seen as a key figure in the myriad investigations into election meddling, thanks both to his work on a proposed Trump Tower deal in Moscow and his appearance in an unconfirmed dossier full of incendiary allegations about Trump and Russia.

A fiercely loyal aide known from his days as an executive at the Trump Organization as the president’s “pit bull,” Cohen has denied any whiff of collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia.

His trip to the Hart Senate Office Building, where the Senate panel has its offices, was a return journey. He attracted the committee’s ire in September, when he issued a statement during a scheduled interview with committee staff.

The leaders of the committee aborted the interview because Cohen ignored their request that he avoid speaking with the press about his testimony. 

“We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today’s interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with Committee staff, in spite of the Committee’s requests that he refrain from public comment," Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said in a statement at the time.

"As a result, we declined to move forward with today’s interview."

In the documents released to the media during the course of that canceled interview, Cohen's lawyer argued that the former Trump Organization executive would not be involved in the panel's investigation into Russian interference in the election absent the allegations contained in the dossier.

He provided a point-by-point rebuttal of specific claims in the 35-page compendium, which was compiled by a former British spy named Christopher Steele as opposition research into then-candidate Trump.

Cohen’s name appears in numerous allegations in the document, including an alleged secret meeting with Kremlin officials in August 2016 in Prague.

The dossier also claims that Cohen was deeply involved in a “cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of Trump’s relationship with Russia being exposed.”

Cohen has also downplayed the proposed Trump Tower deal in Moscow, describing it as nothing more than a potential licensing arrangement negotiated through a broker who was not paid when the deal fell apart "for business reasons."

"I'm certain that the evidence at the conclusion of this investigation will reinforce the fact that there was no collusion between Russia, President Trump, or me," Cohen said in the September statement.