The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a subpoena for President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, his attorney confirmed Thursday, a day after Cohen sought to cancel a scheduled public appearance on Capitol Hill by citing alleged “threats” from the president against his family.
Several congressional committees have been angling to speak with Cohen since he pleaded guilty last month to lying to Congress about how long into 2016 Trump and his advisers pursued a project to build a Trump Tower in Russia.
Cohen had been scheduled to speak with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in public on Feb. 7, until he postponed it indefinitely “due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr. [Rudolph W.] Giuliani,” Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said in a statement Wednesday.
Leaders of both the House and Senate Intelligence committees — the panels to which Cohen lied — had been in discussions with Cohen’s legal team to set up closed-door briefings around the same time. The Senate panel’s subpoena is an attempt to force at least one of those closed-door hearings to take place, despite Cohen canceling the public one.
A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee did not say whether that panel planned to follow suit.
It also was not immediately clear when Cohen may have to appear before the Senate Intelligence panel to be in compliance with the summons. Spokeswomen for the panel’s top Republican and Democratic members declined to comment, but Davis confirmed Thursday that a subpoena had been issued from that committee.
There is a potential limiting factor: Cohen is expected to begin serving a three-year prison term in early March — a looming date that has several Democratic members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee urging panel Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) to use a subpoena for Cohen to appear in advance of starting his jail time, according to Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.). Cummings has left open the possibility that the panel will issue Cohen a subpoena but has not committed to using one.
Cummings has been unruffled by Cohen’s upcoming incarceration, noting that the U.S. marshals “can make arrangements” and that the panel “can always bring him in. Even if he’s in prison.”