(WASHINGTON) — Michael Cohen, who served President Trump as a business and personal lawyer over many years, is urging congressional investigators to excuse him from any questioning in the ongoing Russia probe because, he argues, he was wrongly dragged into the affair in a widely-circulated “dossier” prepared by a retired British spy.
“We do not believe that the committee should give credence to or perpetuate any of the dossier’s allegations relating to Mr. Cohen unless the committee can obtain independent and reliable corroboration of those allegations, which we do not believe exists,” according to a letter Cohen’s lawyer sent to the House Intelligence Committee.
Cohen’s name appears repeatedly in the dossier, an unverified opposition research document prepared by former British agent Christopher Steele at the behest of a Washington-based investigative firm. The document cites a “Kremlin insider” as the source for the suggestion that Cohen met in Prague with Russian government representatives last August. Cohen, it alleged, was “heavily engaged in a damage control and damage limitation operation in an attempt to prevent the full details of Trump’s relationship with Russia being exposed.”
The dossier further states that a “Kremlin insider highlights the importance of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in covert relationship with Russia,” and adds that Cohen’s father-in-law is a prominent developer in Moscow – a detail that later proved to be false.
Cohen’s attorney sent Congress a six-page rebuttal of the so-called “dossier” highlighting each allegation. Most notably, the letter states that Cohen never traveled to Prague to meet covertly with Russian emissaries and never participated in any secret plan to garner Russian help for the Trump candidacy.
“Mr. Cohen did not participate in discussions of any kind (secret or otherwise) with ‘Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers’ in August or September 2016,” the letter says.
“We have not uncovered a single document that would in any way corroborate the dossier’s allegations regarding Mr. Cohen, nor do we believe that any such document exists,” the letter says, which was signed by Cohen’s attorney, Stephen M. Ryan.
Cohen has, however, acknowledged that he engaged in communication directly with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign about a proposal to build a Trump Tower skyscraper in Moscow. In a separate statement, he told lawmakers that he wrote to the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of an effort to garner support for the proposed Trump Tower, a project that was ultimately abandoned.
None of the congressional committees involved in the Russia matter have responded to ABC News about Cohen’s request to be left out of the probe.
Cohen’s letter also calls on Congress to help identify the parties who paid for research into the dossier. That topic has already piqued the interest of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last week, committee investigators met with Glenn Simpson, whose firm Fusion GPS undertook the effort to uncover possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.
Simpson declined to identify his clients, his lawyer said following the closed-door interview.
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