GOP lawmaker asks Cohen to reveal any 'cooperation' with Dems on congressional testimony

GOP lawmaker asks Cohen to reveal any 'cooperation' with Dems on congressional testimony
© Greg Nash

A Republican lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee is pressing Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenCohen challenges Sekulow to testify about Trump Tower meetings George Conway contrasts Trump denying 'cover-ups' with check to Michael Cohen Avenatti indicted for allegedly defrauding Stormy Daniels MORE on whether Democrats or their aides "coordinated" with President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE's former personal lawyer to help him prepare his statements before he testified before Congress.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) delivered a letter on Wednesday to Cohen as he was testifying a second time before the panel, asking him to answer a series of questions regarding the extent of contact he had with Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence committees as well as the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

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"Clearly, there will be questions as to whether or not such contacts, if they occurred, constitute witness tampering, obstruction of justice, or collusion, collaboration, and cooperation between the House Democratic majority, their staff, and you," he wrote.

Turner wrote that Cohen acknowledged in statements before the House Oversight committee that prior to his congressional testimony last week, he met extensively with Democratic staff.

The GOP lawmaker in the letter specifically asked about any contact Cohen had with House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Trump declassification move unnerves Democrats Trump appeals order siding with House Democrats bank subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.). 

Cohen's Oversight testimony was public, but he has twice met privately with the House Intelligence committee.

Turner emphasized that he was not getting into the contents of the closed-door interview, but he was asking about the circumstances surrounding it.

The letter was sent to Cohen's attorney's office on Wednesday morning. 

He asked for Cohen to provide details as to whether he had contact with the Democrats, and if so, the dates and times, the committees involved, who he talked to and the length of each contact, as well as other information.

"Were any such meetings helpful to Cohen in the preparation of his statements?" he asked.

"If these meetings occurred, did Democratic Members or staff assist Cohen in preparation of his statements?" he continued. 

Turner is not the only lawmaker circling around whether Cohen has met with Democratic staff ahead of his testimony on the Hill.

During his public testimony before the Oversight panel, the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanConservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties GOP lawmakers lay out border security proposals for DHS MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceGOP lawmakers lay out border security proposals for DHS DHS official: Florida one of the 'best' states on election security, despite 2016 Russian hack Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — House Republican tries to force Green New Deal vote | 'Awkward' hearing to vet Interior nominee and watchdog | House panel approves bill to stop drilling in Arctic refuge MORE (R-Ga.) questioned Cohen on the matter.

“Did you or anyone else on your team cooperate with the Democratic Party in preparing for this hearing?” Hice asked Cohen last week.

“We’ve spoken to the party,” Cohen replied.

He later noted that he’s spoken with the Democratic chairs and their staff on the House Intelligence and Oversight panels, and that Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsNancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now House Democrats, Trump lawyers ask appeals court to expedite subpoena case Lawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech MORE (D-Md.) in large part convinced him in these meetings to publicly testify.

An Oversight committee source indicated that Cohen also spoke to Republican committee staff ahead of the hearing.

Jordan later followed up on Hice's questioning, asking: “Have you spoken to Chairman Nadler or anyone on his staff or have any of your attorneys spoken to Chairman Nadler?”

Cohen said "no" he has not had such conversations, while also noting that he is “not aware” what conversations his attorney has had, but said he will ask them.

Patrick Boland, a Democratic spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee, described the process of meeting a witness ahead of time as a standard, "appropriate."

“We are running a professional investigation in search of the facts, and we welcome the opportunity to meet with potential witnesses in advance of any testimony to determine relevant topics to cover in order to make productive use of their time before the committee," Boland said in a statement to The Hill. "Despite this professed outrage by Republicans, it’s completely appropriate to conduct proffer sessions and allow witnesses to review their prior testimony before the Committee interviews them — such sessions are a routine part of every serious investigation around the country, including congressional investigations.”

Democrats have largely brushed off Republican pushback over their decision to have Cohen testify. Republicans, who note that he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress last November, say he is a known liar who cannot be trusted.

Over the weekend, Schiff suggested that Republicans are upset Cohen agreed to testify about his former boss.

"The extent of my contact was just inviting him to testify and also trying to allay his concerns about the President's threats against him and his family, but our staff certainly sat down to interview him and that's what you do in any credible investigation," Schiff said over the weekend on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"Mr. McCarthy, I think, can be forgiven for not knowing how to run a credible investigation for the last two years. They did none. But one thing that I think is really unforgivable and that's the degree to which Mr. McCarthy and others have prostrate themselves before this president, and not just in the Russia investigation but even more significantly now with this emergency declaration, which is a- an attack on the Congress's power of the purse," he continued, referring to GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes MORE (R-Calif.).

-Updated 5:36 p.m.