Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's testimony delayed

Cohen's closed-door testimony was scheduled to take place on Friday.
Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer, departs federal court after being sentenced to three years in prison in New York on Dec. 12, 2018.Justin Lane / EPA
By Minyvonne Burke

Testimony from Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, has been postponed to later this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Wednesday.

The testimony was supposed to take place on Friday, but Schiff said that "in the interests of the investigation" it will now take place on Feb. 28, days before Cohen is scheduled to report to federal prison.

Schiff did not elaborate on why the testimony was delayed. Cohen has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's team as they investigate alleged Russian ties to the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a member of the Intelligence panel, said Wednesday that Cohen is being "very cooperative" and that his decision to postpone his testimony was "not at his request." She also dismissed the idea that the delay is related to speculation that Mueller could be close to completing the probe.

According to court documents released in December, Cohen provided Mueller with details about contacts between Trump aides and Russia, and also told of an effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Despite his assistance, Cohen, 52, was sentenced in December to three years behind bars for what a Manhattan federal court judge called a "veritable smorgasbord" of criminal conduct, including making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, lying to Congress about the president's business dealings with Russia and failing to report millions of dollars in income.

Two of the nine felony counts Cohen has pleaded guilty to involved the payments to women, which he helped facilitate in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements to Congress about the scope and status of the Trump Tower Moscow project. Cohen provided the Senate Intelligence Committee inaccurate information about the project so as to minimize links between the president and efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and to give the false impression that the efforts had ended before the Iowa caucuses in February 2016 when they had actually continued well beyond the initial voting.

The White House has denied the affair allegations, with Trump calling his former attorney a liar. Following Cohen's sentencing, Trump defended his efforts to build a Trump-branded tower in Russia while running for president of the United States as "very legal" and "very cool."

Cohen has previously appeared before Congress in closed-door sessions related to the Russia investigation. His testimony before the House Oversight Committee, originally scheduled for Thursday, was postponed; he is still currently scheduled to address the Senate Intelligence Committee next week.

Minyvonne Burke

Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

Alex Moe and Rebecca Shabad contributed.