President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen said on Thursday he had agreed to testify publicly before a congressional panel on February 7, as U.S. House of Representatives Democrats began kicking off numerous investigations of Trump, his business interests and his administration.
Cohen, who was recently sentenced to three years in prison after being charged with orchestrating illegal hush money payments to women alleging affairs with Trump during the 2016 election.
In a statement to CNN, Cohen said he agreed to testify "in furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers".
After Cohen was sentenced, Lanny Davis, an attorney who has been advising him on his media strategy, said Cohen wanted to speak publicly about Trump.
Cohen said Trump directed him to make the payments because of concern about how they might affect the election campaign, adding that, "nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump". But federal prosecutors recommended a "substantial term of imprisonment" for Cohen, saying he "repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends" and claiming that his cooperation with Mueller was "overstated".
Cohen said in a statement he had accepted an invitation to testify from Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
At Cohen's sentencing hearing in December, a prosecutor in Mueller's office said Cohen "has provided consistent and credible information about core Russia-related issues under investigation" without elaborating.
Asked by reporters in Texas on Thursday about Cohen's appearance, Trump said he's "not anxious about it at all".
Cohen cooperated with Mueller's investigation after his August guilty plea, and his congressional testimony could thrust some of those still-private details he provided into the public sphere.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who was made chairman of the committee after Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, made the announcement Thursday.
Known as Trump's "fixer", part of Cohen's job was to make the president's problems go away - by any means necessary. Trump has denied having the extramarital affairs. Cohen has already pleaded guilty to previously making false statements to Congress, in 2017 to a Senate intelligence committee about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
"Mr. Cohen has expressed an interest in telling his personal story in open session, and we welcome his testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Reform", Schiff said in a statement.
The special counsel's questioning of Cohen, one of the president's closest associates over the past decade, has since focused primarily on all aspects of Trump's dealings with Russian Federation - business and otherwise - sources familiar with the matter told ABC News, as well as whether Trump or any of his associates discussed with Cohen the possibility of a pardon. "It will be necessary, however, for Mr. Cohen to answer questions pertaining to the Russian Federation investigation, and we hope to schedule a closed session before our committee in the near future".