Update 5/30/17 2:59 p.m. EDT: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has responded to Cohen’s vow of non-compliance by issuing a subpoena.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s personal business attorney Michael Cohen said he will neither testify nor participate in the House and Senate intelligence committee’s Russia investigation.
“I declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” the one-time Trump campaign surrogate told CNN on Tuesday.
The committees are investigating allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and high-ranking Russian officials as well as Moscow’s attempt to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
Cohen is regarded as a person of interest in the investigation due to reports suggesting that in a private January meeting he had attempted to broker an unspecified peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine over the status of Crimea.
Trump has retained Marc Kasowitz as counsel in the Russia probe. Kasowitz’s law firm employs former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman last week withdrew his name from consideration as FBI director due to the perception of a conflict of interest.
Cohen told CNN that the intelligences committees “have yet to produce one single piece of credible evidence that would corroborate the Russia narrative,” and went on to describe the bicameral investigation as a “total fishing expedition.”
Cohen previously served as executive vice president of the Trump Organization as well as its corporate counsel. He is not the first Trump associate to refuse Congressional cooperation.
Last week attorneys for former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said their client would not comply with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s subpoena seeking records related to Flynn’s alleged Russian business dealings.
Flynn resigned in February following reports that he had diplomatically engaged Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to President Trump taking office and that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about that conversation.
Those reports suggested that Flynn may have given Kislyak the impression that the incoming administration might be willing to consider lifting sanctions that were imposed on Moscow following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Shortly before leaving office, former President Barack Obama imposed additional sanctions on Russia after receiving information from the intelligence community suggesting the country tried to sabotage Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions in early March recused himself from the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia probe following The Washington Post reporting that he had twice met with Kislyak while a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Two weeks ago Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Muller as independent counsel in the Trump-Russia probe following two days of intense bipartisan criticism stemming from The New York Times reporting that recently fired FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo about a February meeting with President Donald Trump.
During the meeting the president reportedly told Comey that he hoped the Bureau would not pursue the investigation into Flynn’s correspondence with Kislyak and the retired lieutenant general’s reported business dealings with Russia media outlets.
Comey has agreed to openly testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at an unspecified date following Congress’ one-week Memorial Day recess.