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GOP lawmakers rip Dems for calling Cohen to testify

The Hill logo The Hill 1/11/2019 Emily Birnbaum

a person standing in a room: GOP lawmakers rip Dems for calling Cohen to testify © Stefani Reynolds GOP lawmakers rip Dems for calling Cohen to testify Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Thursday criticized news that President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen is set to publicly testify before the panel next month.

Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement earlier Thursday that Cohen had agreed to voluntarily testify on Feb. 7.

"Chairman Cummings promised to pursue rigorous, responsible, fact-based oversight," Jordan said in a statement. "However, the Chairman's announcement today suggests he will be using the committee as a venue for political theater rather than legitimate oversight."

Jordan knocked Cohen, saying he has pleaded guilty for misstatements he made to Congress while testifying about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"The Democrats' star witness has admitted to providing intentionally false and misleading testimony to Congress," Jordan said. "He is also a witness in ongoing law-enforcement matters, including Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller's probe."

"When in the minority, Chairman Cummings and the Democrats have often cautioned against such actions," he added. "Now that Chairman Cummings is in charge, the same standards don't seem to apply. This makes clear that Chairman Cummings and the Democrats will do whatever it takes to attack this President."

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, characterized Cummings as a lawmaker "I have a great deal of respect for." But Meadows sharply questioned the Democrats' decision to call Cohen to testify.

"For months we've heard Democrats [say], 'Do not have witnesses come in here. You're going to interfere with the Mueller investigation.' And I find it just extremely ironic that the very first witness he would call in is someone that is central to ... the Mueller investigation," Meadows said.

"If he's going to have real oversight, great," Meadows added. "Let's have [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein come in and sit right beside Michael Cohen. I have a few questions for him, as well."

Democrats have vowed to use their new majority to provide oversight of the Trump administration. The hearing's announcement represents the first major play by Democrats to do so.

Cummings told reporters there would be "limitations" on lawmakers questions so as not to interfere with Mueller's investigation.

"We don't want to do anything to interfere with the Mueller investigation, absolutely nothing," Cummings said.

Cohen has been cooperating with Mueller's team since this past summer.

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