Schiff says Intelligence panel pursuing evidence of Cohen's WikiLeaks claims

Schiff says Intelligence panel pursuing evidence of Cohen's WikiLeaks claims
© Greg Nash

The Democratic leader of the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday said that his panel is pursuing evidence to back up or dispute Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump's job approval ticks up 2 points: Gallup Dem lawmaker: 'Very serious doubts' that IRS is 'properly auditing' Trump Trump, businesses sue Oversight chairman to block subpoena for financial records MORE’s claims that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE knew his longtime friend Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneThe Hill's Morning Report - Is impeachment back on the table? End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes Heavily redacted Mueller report leaves major questions unanswered MORE was communicating with WikiLeaks about hacked Democratic emails before the organization released them in 2016.

“That is a very important investigative thread,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOn The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle Pelosi downplays impeachment post-Mueller report Pelosi, Dems struggle to find unity in Mueller response MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters when asked about Cohen’s allegations during a breakfast event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington, D.C. 

“We are going to be and have been pursuing documents that would allow us to corroborate that testimony,” Schiff said.

Cohen, who worked for Trump for roughly a decade as a Trump Organization executive and later his personal attorney, delivered explosive congressional testimony last month during which he claimed Trump knew in advance of WikiLeaks's plans to release emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. The intelligence community has tied the hacked email releases to a broader plot by the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.

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Cohen told lawmakers in February that before the 2016 Democratic National Convention he heard Stone tell Trump during a speakerphone conversation that there would be a “massive dump” of emails damaging to Democratic candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump rips Krugman, NYT after columnist writes GOP no longer believes in American values Klobuchar jokes to Cuomo: 'I feel you creeping over my shoulder' but 'not in a Trumpian manner' Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment MORE’s campaign. 

“Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Cohen said. “Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’ ” 

Stone has denied Cohen’s account.

Cohen has twice since met privately with Schiff’s committee as part of its ongoing probe into Russian interference, giving the lawmakers documents to supplement his testimony. Schiff and his colleagues have been tight-lipped about the specifics of Cohen’s closed-door appearances.

On Tuesday, Schiff would not say whether the committee was specifically pursuing phone records to corroborate Cohen’s account of Trump’s knowledge of WikiLeaks’s plans.

“I don’t want to go into specifics, but we are going to be looking at any documentary evidence,” Schiff said. “That could take a number of forms, from phone records, to social media records, to other documentary evidence.” 

The Democrat added that the committee might also seek testimony from other witnesses who can “either prove or disprove” what Cohen testified to.

WikiLeaks has disputed Cohen’s account, and Republicans have raised questions about Cohen’s trustworthiness, noting he has previously pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. Cohen will report to prison in May to serve a three-year sentence for making false statements and other crimes. He has cooperated with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference.

Stone made various public statements before the 2016 election that appeared to forecast WikiLeaks’s releases, but has maintained he never made direct contact with the organization and instead had a back channel to the group.

Stone has been indicted in connection with Mueller’s investigation for lying to Congress about his conversations regarding WikiLeaks, obstruction and witness tampering. Stone has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is fighting them in federal court in D.C.