President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, emphatically denied any involvement with Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 election in a public statement on Tuesday.
“I certain that the evidence a the conclusion of this investigation will reinforce the fact that there was no collusion between Russia, President Trump or me,” he said in a written statement made publicly shortly after he arrived for what was scheduled as a closed-door interview with Senate Intelligence Committee staff.
That interview never took place, according to Cohen. After spending almost two hours in the committee’s offices, he told reporters that the committee had decided to postpone the meeting.
Cohen is a fiercely loyal aide, known from his days as an executive at the Trump Organization as the president’s “pit bull.”
He is seen as a key figure in the myriad investigations into election meddling, thanks both to his work on a proposed Trump Tower deal in Moscow and his appearance in an unconfirmed dossier full of incendiary allegations about Trump and Russia.
Cohen denied in the statement that he has ever visited Prague to meet with Russian officials, a key allegation contained in the dossier, and insisted that the potential Trump Tower deal was “solely a real estate deal and nothing more.”
He said the dossier — which was made public by BuzzFeed in December — was “shoddily written and totally fabricated” and have damaged his reputation.
“I’m certain that there are some in this country who do not care about the facts, but simply want to politicize this issue, choosing to presume guilt — rather than presuming innocence — so as to discredit our lawful elected president in the public eye and to shame his supporters in the public square,” he continued, calling such behavior “un-American.”
In a letter written to the committee’s leaders in August and released Tuesday, Cohen’s lawyer argued that the former Trump Organization executive would not be involved in the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the election absent the allegations contained in the dossier.
He provided a point-by-point rebuttal of specific claims in the 35-page compendium, which was compiled by a former British spy named Christopher Steele as opposition research into then-candidate Trump.
Cohen’s name appears in numerous allegations in the document, including the alleged secret meeting with Kremlin officials in August 2016 in Prague.
The dossier also claims that Cohen was deeply involved in a “cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of Trump’s relationship with Russia being exposed.”
In August, Trump’s lawyer pressed the Senate committee to investigate who paid for the production of the document — the company that contracted with Steele, Fusion GPS, has declined to disclose its clients — and whether it was fabricated to swing the election.
“I am here today to reiterate my own innocence regarding the false allegations raised against me,” Cohen told investigators Tuesday. “What I seek is the committee making a public conclusion about the truth or falsity of the allegations that follow.”
Cohen also addressed scrutiny on his role in promoting a stalled Trump development project in Moscow that the Trump Organization was pursuing during the campaign.
In January of 2016, he emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman to ask for help with speeding along languishing negotiations — a message reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by Cohen on Tuesday.
The revelation of the request — perhaps the most well-documented direct interaction between a senior Trump aide and a senior Putin aide — comes as Trump’s business ties to Russia continue to be under intense scrutiny.
Cohen on Tuesday downplayed the deal. He described it as nothing more than a potential licensing arrangement negotiated through a broker who was not paid when the deal fell apart “for business reasons.”
In an August statement to investigators released on Tuesday, Cohen said that he did not recall that Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, ever replied to the request.
The broker, Felix Sater, had written to Cohen in a series of emails that building the Tower could benefit the businessman’s candidacy, The New York Times has reported.
In August, Cohen denied that the deal was in any way designed to further Trump’s White House run.
“The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign,” Cohen said in an August statement to investigators.
He noted the plan was terminated “before the Iowa caucus and months before the very first primary.”
“I was doing my job,” he told investigators.
– This story was updated at 10:50 a.m.