Cohen to go on the defensive over Trump administration role

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Michael Cohen, right, heads into President Donald Trump’s Doral golf resort in South Florida, February 7, 2013

The lawyer for President Donald Trump has written to the Republican leader of the House of Representatives and the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee saying he will refuse to answer questions from both panels.

Michael Cohen, who is also a close adviser to the President, said the scope of questioning was so narrow that he would not answer any questions relating to the Trump Foundation or its activities.

Mr Cohen had been expected to testify about Trump’s plans for a border wall with Mexico.

He had also been expected to answer questions about the role he played in seeking a meeting between Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Image copyright Ralr Hansen/YouTube Image caption Michael Cohen confronted Trump at the hotel where the Republican National Convention was held in 2016

One of the panels will ask questions only about what “constitutes the President’s private business interests”.

The other will only ask about Mr Cohen’s firm’s activities.

According to letters to House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman Trey Gowdy and House Judiciary Committee chairman Robert Goodlatte , lawyers for Mr Cohen advised they would be unable to voluntarily respond to questions relating to the Trump Foundation, or the role he played on the 2016 presidential campaign.

Instead, they told the committees they would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights.

Gowdy has threatened a subpoena if Mr Cohen refused to appear.

The three committees are examining Mr Trump’s finances and other matters, and have been holding parallel hearings.

The investigation could force Mr Trump to provide documents, notes and testimony.

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