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Trump personal attorney declines congressional Russia probe request

Michael Cohen has remained close to Trump since leaving the president’s company in January. | AP Photo

Updated

President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney has turned down a request to be interviewed and provide documents in the congressional probe into Russian interference into the 2016 election.

Michael Cohen, who worked at the Trump Organization until January and remains the president’s private counsel, confirmed Tuesday he would not cooperate with congressional inquiries as they examine contacts between Trump’s circle of aides and Russian officials.

“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told POLITICO via text message. He did not specify which House or Senate panels had sought him out as part of their investigations.

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Cohen is among a growing list of Trump associates to be asked to provide testimony or documents for congressional or federal investigations. Others include White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and 2016 campaign advisers Michael Caputo, Roger Stone and Carter Page.

Flynn agreed on Tuesday to provide some of the documents requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee, a source close to Flynn said. Flynn will turn over documents related to two of his businesses as well as some personal documents the committee requested earlier this month.

Boris Epshteyn, a former campaign adviser who briefly served as a special assistant to Trump in the White House, confirmed on Tuesday that he had received a request from the House Intelligence Committee.

Epshteyn provided a statement from his lawyer that read, “Like many others, Mr. Epshteyn has received a broad, preliminary request for information from the House Intelligence Committee. This is a voluntary request. Mr. Epshteyn has not been subpoenaed nor do we anticipate that he will be.”

The statement also said Epshteyn and his team is trying to clarify what the committee is seeking and whether Epshteyn can “reasonably provide” that information.

Manafort and Stone recently handed over materials to lawmakers. Flynn has been denied an immunity request and has since invoked his Fifth Amendment right to reject a subpoena request for all his communications with Russian officials before the November election.

Cohen has remained close to Trump since leaving the president’s company in January. In April, the Republican National Committee named him to its finance leadership team. And Cohen traveled from New York to attend a White House meeting earlier this month with the president and other aides to discuss the administration’s approach to the Russia investigation.

Cohen has also found himself under the media microscope.

Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty

The New York Times reported in February that Cohen a month earlier had hand delivered a proposal for Trump to lift sanctions on Russia in exchange for peace between Russia and Ukraine. Cohen got the document from Trump business associate Felix Sater, who had helped Trump scope out business deals in Russia, the Times reported. Cohen gave several different accounts of the exchange.

Cohen also drew attention in January after BuzzFeed published an unverified dossier alleging he met with Russian government representatives in Prague, though subsequent reports placed him in Los Angeles visiting colleges with his son at the time of the alleged Prague encounter. Cohen also told POLITICO at the time that he questioned the document’s release just a day before Trump was scheduled to give a news conference unveiling an ethics plan for his private businesses.

“The entire report is inaccurate,” Cohen said at the time. “I have never met with any Russian, Kremlin officials. I have never been to Russia.”

Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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