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 CohenThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle House Oversight votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt MORE’s claims that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Trump cites tax cuts over judges as having biggest impact of his presidency Ocasio-Cortez claps back at Trump after he cites her in tweet rejecting impeachment MORE knew his longtime friend Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneHouse panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates House panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates Court orders release of sealed documents in mysterious Mueller grand jury case 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 SchiffSchiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' Schiff: Intelligence agencies focused on Russian interference 'even if the president isn't' Schiff: Bolton, Pompeo undercutting Trump's attempts to stay out of war 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ClintonDemocrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally 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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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.