WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen is reconsidering his plan to testify publicly to the U.S. Congress next month because of intimidation by the president, an adviser to Cohen said on Thursday.
Lanny Davis, an attorney who has been advising Cohen on his media strategy, said in an interview with MSNBC that some remarks made by the Republican president about Cohen amounted to witness tampering and deserved to be criminally investigated.
“There is genuine fear and it has caused Michael Cohen to consider whether he should go forward or not, and he has not made a final decision,” Davis said.
Last week Cohen agreed to appear before a congressional panel on Feb. 7, as U.S. House of Representatives Democrats began kicking off numerous investigations of Trump, his business interests and his administration.
Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to two women to help Trump in 2016 in violation of campaign laws and for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.
In a Fox News interview on Saturday, Trump suggested he had damaging information on Cohen’s father-in-law. “That’s the one that people want to look at,” Trump said in the interview.
Davis said: “There is no question that his threatening and calling out his father-in-law, who - quote - has all the money, is not only improper and unseemly for a bully using the bully pulpit of the presidency, but the very definition of intimidation and witness tampering.”
He said Trump’s remarks “could be obstruction of justice.”
Trump called Cohen a “rat” in a tweet last month for cooperating with prosecutors. Cohen had been Trump’s self-described longtime “fixer” and had once said he would take a bullet for the New York real estate developer.
At a hearing in federal court in New York in August, Cohen testified that Trump had directed him to commit a crime by arranging payments before the 2016 election to two women who said they had engaged in extramarital affairs with Trump.
Cohen said on Thursday he had paid a firm to manipulate online polling data “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” Trump.
Reporting by Tim Ahmann; editing by James Dalgleish and Cynthia Osterman