Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen subpoenaed by Senate panel: adviser

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and self-described “fixer” Michael Cohen has been subpoenaed to testify by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Cohen’s adviser Lanny Davis said on Thursday.

Coming one day after he postponed an appearance before a House of Representatives investigative panel, the subpoena thrust Cohen back into the spotlight, with MSNBC and CNN saying he will appear before the intelligence panel in mid-February.

“This morning the Senate Intelligence Committee served Michael Cohen with a subpoena,” Davis said in a statement.

A New York lawyer who once said he would take a bullet for Trump, Cohen is a central figure in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as possible obstruction of justice.

Trump, whose presidency has been clouded for many months by the Mueller investigation, called his former confidant Cohen a “Rat” in a tweet last month for cooperating with prosecutors.

In a Fox News interview this month, 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.

Cohen’s adviser Davis on MSNBC accused Trump of attacking Cohen’s father-in-law “as a way of getting to Mr. Cohen, and that is called witness tampering, obstruction of justice.”

Davis urged Congress “to protect Mr. Cohen by voting a resolution of censure that you can criticize Mr. Cohen but don’t attack a man’s family and intimidate a witness before Congress.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to making false statements to both the House and Senate intelligence committees. He acknowledged that he had been involved in pursuing a Trump skyscraper project in Moscow deep into the 2016 campaign, later than he had disclosed in letters to the committees in 2017.

After Cohen’s guilty plea, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr confirmed that his panel had made multiple referrals to Mueller’s office for prosecution, including cases that could involve lying to the committee.

In December, Cohen was sentenced by a federal judge in Manhattan to two months for those lies to Congress, although that term will run simultaneously with the three years he got for arranging hush payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump and unrelated financial crimes.

A spokesman for Burr declined to comment on the subpoena.

Russia has denied U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election. Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin. The president regularly attacks Mueller’s inquiry as a “witch hunt.”

Cohen on Wednesday postponed scheduled Feb. 7 testimony to the House Oversight Committee because of what Davis described as “ongoing threats against his family from Trump” and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The chairmen of that committee and the House Intelligence Committee have both said they also want Cohen to testify.

Cohen is scheduled to begin serving his sentence in March.

Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Nathan Layne and Tim Ahmann in Washington; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and James Dalgleish