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BREAKING NEWS

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to testify at closed U.S. House hearing next week

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to testify at closed U.S. House hearing next week
FILE PHOTO: Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer, arrives for his sentencing at United States Court house in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon/File Photo -
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen will testify next week at a closed hearing of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee after postponing an appearance before another congressional panel, citing threats from Trump.

Cohen, who is set to go to prison in March after pleading guilty to crimes including campaign finance violations during Trump's 2016 election campaign, had expressed concern about testifying because of threats against his family from Trump.

"Mr. Cohen has relayed to the Committee his legitimate concerns for his own safety as well as that of his family, which have been fuelled by improper comments made by the President and his lawyer," Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, the panel's chairman, said in a statement.

"These attacks on Mr. Cohen’s family must stop," Schiff said.

Last week, Cohen cited threats from Trump for postponing testimony before an open hearing of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee set for Feb. 7. That hearing has not been rescheduled.

Cohen was subpoenaed last week by the Senate Intelligence Committee to appear in mid-February.

Cohen will be represented by a new team of lawyers after shaking up his legal team on Monday.

Michael Monico and Barry Spevack, partners in the same Chicago criminal defence law firm, will replace Manhattan attorneys Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester, who oversaw his guilty plea and last month's sentencing in New York.

In addition to congressional testimony, Monico and Spevack will also represent Cohen as he cooperates with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election as well as federal and state investigations in New York, Lanny Davis, another Cohen attorney, said in the statement.

In December, Cohen was sentenced by a federal judge in Manhattan to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating hush payments to women in violation of campaign laws before the 2016 election.

Cohen said in the guilty plea that he was directed to make the payments by Trump. The president and his lawyers have argued the payments were a personal matter unrelated to the election.

Trump called Cohen a "rat" in a tweet last month for cooperating with prosecutors. Cohen had been Trump's self-described longtime "fixer" and once said he would take a bullet for the New York real estate developer.

In a Fox News interview this month, and other forums, Trump also suggested he had damaging information on Cohen's father-in-law.

(This story corrects spelling of Lanny Davis' first name in paragraph 9.)

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Cynthia Osterman)

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