The Latest: Lawmaker says it’s OK to ask Cohen about Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen (all times local):

10:15 a.m.

A Democratic member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee says that restrictions on questions about Russia have been lifted when the committee questions Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer.

Just before the hearing began, Rep. Gerry Connolly said he’d discussed the issue with the committee’s leadership. The Virginia congressman said previous limits on questions about Russia were “null and void” because Cohen mentioned the issue in his opening statement.

The committee chairman had issued a memo outlining the scope of the hearing, and it didn’t include questions about Russia. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings had said that he didn’t want to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

___

10 a.m.

A congressional hearing is underway featuring the much-anticipated public testimony from Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.

Cohen is expected to detail before the House Oversight and Reform Committee what he believes is Trump’s lying, racism and cheating, and possibly even criminal conduct.

Cohen, who was Trump’s longtime fixer, is the first high-profile witness called before the committee as newly empowered Democrats pursue an aggressive effort to investigate the president.

Cohen played a pivotal role in buying the silence of a porn actress and a former Playboy Playmate who both alleged they had sex with Trump. The president has denied their claims.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations connected to the payments and to lying to Congress.

He’s set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.

___

4:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is lashing out at his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, before Cohen testifies at a public hearing.

Trump is distancing himself from Cohen in a tweet from Hanoi, Vietnam, where he has traveled for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump insists Cohen was just “one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately).” He also says Cohen “had other clients also” and “did bad things unrelated to Trump.”

Cohen plans to tell a House committee on Wednesday that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and that Trump is a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat.” That’s according to prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a project in Russia. Trump accuses Cohen of now lying to reduce his prison sentence.

___

2:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer is planning to tell a House committee that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press, Michael Cohen says that Trump implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project.

And the former Trump fixer brands his old boss a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat.”

On the matter of racism, Cohen says the president made racist comments “disparaging African-Americans, saying at one point that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”

Ahead of his appearance, Cohen said Tuesday that the American people can decide “exactly who is telling the truth” when he testifies Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform committee.

Categories: National & International News