President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen just got subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, his lawyer told VICE News in a statement on Thursday.
The announcement comes a day after Cohen said he would postpone a planned public appearance before the House Oversight Committee scheduled for Feb. 7. Cohen’s attorney and public relations advisor, Lanny Davis, cited “threats” made publicly by Trump against Cohen’s family, in an email to VICE News explaining his client’s abrupt decision.
But the Senate’s move appears to take the decision out of Cohen’s hands.
“This morning the Senate Intelligence Committee served Michael Cohen with a subpoena,” Davis told VICE News in an emailed statement on Thursday.
A spokesperson for the committee declined to comment Thursday morning, as did a spokesperson for Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democratic member on the committee.
Cohen’s Senate Intel testimony date is now set for Feb. 12.
The Senate subpoena marks the latest shot fired in an escalating battle between Congress and the White House over the appearance of Trump’s inner circle in front of congressional committees.
Cohen’s original planned appearance on Capitol Hill had provoked outbursts from Trump and his TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, about Cohen’s family. Trump and Giuliani quickly got personal, targeting Cohen’s father-in-law, on Twitter and TV. Cohen, they claimed publicly, appeared to be motivated by an impulse to shield his father-in-law from criminal exposure.
In an appearance on CNN last weekend, Giuliani suggested, without evidence, that Cohen’s father-in-law may have links to “organized crime.”
Members of Congress reacted with outrage to Cohen’s announcement that his appearance would be postponed, and warned Trump that intimidating a witness is a crime.
Leading House Democrats said Wednesday that Cohen would appear before their panels, too — whether he was in the mood or not.
Failure to testify before Congress “was never an option,” Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairmen of the House intelligence and oversight committees, said in a joint statement. “We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both Committees.”
Cover: Michael Cohen walks from federal court Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, in New York, after he was sentenced following a guilty plea for lying to Congress, campaign finance violations and other crimes. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle