U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer has information "on certain subjects that should be of interest" to the special prosecutor investigating ties between Russia and his 2016 election campaign, his lawyer says.
Michael Cohen's lawyer on August 22 said Cohen is willing to provide information not only to U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller but to committees in Congress investigating Russian election interference efforts.
The offer came one day after the former Trump "fixer" pleaded guilty to making hush-money payments -- allegedly at Trump's direction -- to women who claimed to have affairs with Trump to ensure their silence during his 2016 White House bid.
Media have reported that Cohen is willing to tell Mueller that Trump knew in advance about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which his eldest son sought damaging information from a Russian lawyer about Trump's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Cohen's knowledge about that meeting has already drawn the interest of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating ties between Russia and Trump's campaign, with Republican and Democratic committee members saying that they've "recently re-engaged" with Cohen on the matter.
Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, in a series of television interviews also said that Cohen could tell Mueller about whether Trump was aware of and encouraged Russian hacking of Democratic party e-mails during the 2016 campaign.
"It is my observation that what [Cohen] knows will be of interest" to Mueller, Davis said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, when asked if Trump was concerned about what Cohen might tell Mueller, said: “I don’t think the president is concerned at all. He knows that he did nothing wrong and that there was no collusion."
In pleading guilty on August 21, Cohen said in court that Trump directed him to arrange payments of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to buy their silence about alleged affairs before the election. Trump denies the affairs.
Trump tweeted on August 22 that the campaign finance violations Cohen pleaded guilty to "are not a crime." He told Fox & Friends that, because the payments came from his personal bank account and not from campaign funds, it's "not even a campaign violation." But legal experts dispute Trump's claims.
'Significant Turning Point'
The revelation of Trump's possible involvement in criminal activity sent shock waves around the world and appear to pose the most grave legal danger for Trump to date after a year and a half of criminal investigations.
While Cohen was fiercely loyal to the president when he was working for him -- saying at one point he would "take a bullet" for Trump -- Davis said Cohen is now intent on telling the truth to whoever asks him, and is "more than happy" to tell Mueller all that he knows.
While Cohen is not officially cooperating with Mueller's investigation of Trump, Davis said his pledge to tell the truth is "the functional equivalent of cooperation."
Davis said that Cohen reached a "significant turning point" in his thinking about Trump after he observed what Davis called Trump's "deference" to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Helsinki last month. Davis said that event led Cohen to believe Trump was "unsuitable" to hold office.
Working out of a Trump Tower office next to his boss, Cohen is believed to have vast knowledge of the inner workings of Trump's empire, his business dealings, and his campaign that could prove important to investigators in Congress and on Mueller's team.
U.S. agents in April seized more than 4 million items from his home, hotel room, and office, including recordings of Trump.
Democrats in Congress seized on Cohen's guilty plea on August 22 and demanded that Republican leaders who control Congress hold hearings on Trump's repeated threats against FBI and Mueller investigators -- which they said amount to obstruction of justice -- and pass legislation to protect Mueller from being fired by the president.
"The president of the United States is now directly implicated in a criminal conspiracy," said Representative Jerrold Nadler, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. He said Congress must now act to "respond to this culture of corruption."
House of Representatives Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told the Associated Press, however, that evidence of Trump's involvement in crimes admitted by Cohen would not be enough to prompt Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump, should they gain control of the House in November congressional elections.
"Impeachment has to spring from something else," Pelosi said. "It's not a priority on the agenda going forward, unless something else comes forward."