Comey set to testify next week on Trump-Russia investigation
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Comey set to testify next week on Trump-Russia investigation

Ex-FBI director expected to address Senate on reports US president urged him to drop probe into campaign's alleged Moscow ties

This file photo taken on March 20, 2017 shows then FBI director James Comey  during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
This file photo taken on March 20, 2017 shows then FBI director James Comey during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Former FBI director James Comey will reportedly testify before the Senate next week on reports that US President Donald Trump sought to pressure him to drop an investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

Although no date or time for Comey’s testimony has yet been set, he is expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of that body’s counterintelligence investigation on Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, CNN reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.

According to CNN, Comey has spoken on what he can publicly address in the testimony with his predecessor Robert Mueller, who was tapped earlier this month as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein to lead the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s team.

Due to Mueller’s investigation, Comey is not expected to unveil details of the FBI probe, the source told CNN, but will likely address reports that Trump sought to influence him to scuttle the investigation prior to his firing.

US President Donald Trump is introduced to speak to US military troops at Naval Air Station Sigonella, May 27, 2017, in Sigonella, Italy. (AP/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump is introduced to speak to US military troops at Naval Air Station Sigonella, May 27, 2017, in Sigonella, Italy. (AP/Evan Vucci)

In addition to the special counsel’s investigation, the Senate and House intelligence committees are also leading their own probes into whether Trump aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump has dismissed the investigations as a “hoax and a “witch hunt.”

Also on Wednesday, reports indicated that former national security adviser Michael Flynn will provide documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its probe.

Flynn’s decision Tuesday came as Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, rejected a House Intelligence Committee request for information, and former White House staffer Boris Epshteyn confirmed he has been contacted for information as part of the House investigation.

“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen said. “I find it irresponsible and improper that the request sent to me was leaked by those working on the committee.”

Earlier Tuesday, the AP citing a congressional aide reported that the House intelligence committee had subpoenaed Cohen. The aide later retracted the statement. Cohen said if he is subpoenaed, he will comply.

Cohen, a longtime attorney for the Trump Organization, remains a personal lawyer for Trump. He served as a cable television surrogate for the Republican during the presidential campaign.

Cohen told ABC News that he had been asked by both the House and Senate intelligence committees to provide information and testimony about contacts he had with Russian officials.

Cohen’s ties with Russian interests came up in February when The New York Times reported that Cohen helped broker a Ukraine peace plan that would call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and a referendum to let Ukrainians decide whether the part of the country seized by Russia in 2014 should be leased to Moscow. The Russian government denied knowing anything about such a plan.

The Times reported that the peace plan was the work of Felix Sater, a business associate who has helped Trump try to find business in Russia, and Cohen.

In this Dec. 16, 2016 file photo, attorney Michael Cohen arrives in Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
In this Dec. 16, 2016 file photo, attorney Michael Cohen arrives in Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Cohen was a fierce defender of Trump during the campaign, often haranguing probing reporters and famously challenging a CNN reporter live on-air to name the specific polls that showed then-candidate Trump behind his rival, Hillary Clinton.

In the early 2000s, he formed his own firm working on a range of legal matters, including malpractice cases, business law and work on an ethanol business in Ukraine. Cohen also owned and operated a handful of taxi medallions, managing a fleet of cabs in New York.

Cohen’s business associates in the taxi enterprise included a number of men from the former Soviet Union, including his Ukrainian-born father-in-law.

Cohen has made his own unsuccessful attempts at public office, losing a city council race and briefly running for state assembly in New York.

The House intelligence committee has also sought information from Epshteyn, a former staffer in the Trump White House.

Boris Epshteyn in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City, Nov. 11, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA)
Boris Epshteyn in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City, Nov. 11, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA)

Epshteyn said in a statement that he has asked the committee questions to better understand what information it is seeking and will determine whether he can reasonably provide it.

Epshteyn, who grew up in Moscow, worked a short time in the White House press office. He left in March and now works as a political analyst for right-leaning Sinclair Broadcasting.

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