The scope of the congressional investigations into the Russian government's alleged involvement in the 2016 presidential election has broadened to President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. The attorney is now the fifth Trump associate to become a person of interest in the Russia probe.
On May 30, Cohen disclosed that both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had asked for his cooperation in their investigations. The Trump lawyer added that he had refused the committees' requests for his records and testimony about potential contacts with Russian officials.
"I declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered," Cohen told ABC News.
Cohen worked as an executive of the Trump administration from 2006 until the 2016 presidential election. Cohen became Trump's personal lawyer after the president assumed office.
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The Trump attorney is the fifth Trump associate confirmed to receive a request for documents from the congressional probes into Russian interference during the 2016 election, joining the ranks of former White House National Security Adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and adviser Roger Stone.
While Cohen rejected the congressional requests for his records and testimony, he could face a potential subpoena from the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.
On May 25, the Senate committee unanimously voted to give chairman Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and vice-chairman Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia blanket authority to issue subpoenas, the Washington Examiner reports.
The blanket authority gave both Burr and Warner the discretion to request documents and witnesses "as they deem necessary."
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Flynn was the first person of interest in the Russia investigation to receive a subpoena, prompting him to plead the Fifth Amendment.
In January, an unverified dossier compiled by a retired British intelligence agent alleged that Cohen had colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. Some of the allegations against the attorney were subsequently debunked. Trump described the dossier as a disgrace and called for its propagators to "apologize to start with Michael Cohen."
Among the most serious allegations within the unverified dossier asserted that Cohen had secretly met with Russian officials sometime between August and September 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic. Cohen repeatedly denied the accusation, asserting that was not in the European city during that timeline.
On May 5, Cohen provided the inside contents of his international passport to Buzzfeed News, which found that he had no stamped visits to the Czech Republic.
"I've never actually walked in the land of Prague," Cohen stated. "And last August I was not in Prague."