Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has postponed giving evidence to Congress because the president has threatened him and his family, his adviser said.
Cohen decided to put off his appearance because of “ongoing threats against his family from Trump” and the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to adviser Lanny Davis.
He said Cohen’s ongoing co-operation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election campaign was also the reason for the delay.
Cohen, who was Mr Trump’s “fixer” for many years, was due to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on 7 February.
The Democratic-led committee is investigating hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign to silence women who claimed to have had sex with Mr Trump.
Prosecutors say Mr Trump directed Cohen to make the payments to see off potential scandals during the campaign.
Mr Trump has always denied having an affair.
Last month, Mr Trump called Cohen a “rat” for co-operating with prosecutors.
In a Fox News interview this month, the president also suggested he had damaging information on Cohen’s father-in-law.
“That’s the one that people want to look at,” he said.
Mr Davis said: “There is no question that his threatening and calling out his father-in-law, who – quote – ‘has all the money’, is not only improper and unseemly for a bully using the bully pulpit of the presidency, but the very definition of intimidation and witness tampering.”
Reacting to being accused of threatening Cohen’s family, Mr Trump said: “I would say he’s been threatened by the truth. He’s only been threatened by the truth.
“And he doesn’t want to do that probably for me or other of his clients.
“He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”
Mr Giuliani said the “president’s response covers it”.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and nearly $2m (£1.5m) in fines after admitting to lying about campaign finance – including paying hush-money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels – and committing tax and bank fraud.
He said he violated campaign finance laws at the direction of Mr Trump to influence the 2016 campaign.
Cohen also admitted to lying to the Senate and House intelligence committees about when the proposed Trump Tower Moscow deal ceased, for which he promised to co-operate with Mr Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Mr Davis said on Wednesday that Cohen looked forward to testifying at a later date.
“This is a time where Mr Cohen had to put his family and their safety first,” he added.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to Cohen to testify, a source told Reuters.
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