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Michael Cohen still weighing Senate interview amid legal troubles

| Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, 10:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Michael Cohen’s criminal defense attorney has contacted the Senate Judiciary Committee about scheduling a possible interview with his client, President Trump’s former personal attorney.

Cohen attorney Guy Petrillo said Friday that he’s talked with the committee about a voluntary interview “prior to sentencing” in Cohen’s federal court case.

George Hartmann, a spokesman for Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, said the committee is waiting on Cohen. “Mr. Petrillo indicated they could not yet schedule an interview, but that he would contact the committee when his client is ready,” Hartmann said Friday.

Cohen, the longtime lawyer and fixer for Trump before he became president, pleaded guilty Aug. 21 to charges including paying hush money in violation of campaign finance laws shortly before the 2016 election to women alleging they had past affairs with Trump. Lanny Davis, another of Cohen’s lawyers, said after the plea was entered in court that Trump directed Cohen to “commit a crime.”

Grassley said in a letter to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, a committee member, that Davis had previously indicated Cohen was willing to testify but “retreated” this week in an email citing “other pending criminal matters” and referring the committee to Cohen’s other lawyers.

New York state prosecutors have taken preliminary steps to open criminal investigations into Cohen and possibly into the president’s business, according to people familiar with the matter.

“As I have said many times, I am committed to following the facts wherever they lead, and to working in a bipartisan fashion whenever possible,” Grassley said in the letter to Whitehouse. “This committee will continue attempts to reschedule the voluntary interview to which Mr. Cohen had previously agreed.”

Davis declined to comment Friday, deferring to Petrillo.

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