- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

President Trump’s longtime personal attorney was interviewed behind closed doors on Tuesday by a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election amid speculation he would further denounce the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

Michael Cohen, who has also served as the Trump Organization’s executive vice president, has repeatedly dismissed allegations of collusion with Russia first stirred up by the dossier, which was financed by a backer of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and written by a former British spy.

On Tuesday, as he walked past reporters to a secure Capitol Hill investigation room to be interviewed the House Intelligence Committee, the normally boisterous New Yorker remained noticeably quiet. Neither he nor his attorney commented publicly after the hearing, which ran almost six hours and was described by a committee Democrat to the Washington Post as a “contentious” exchange.

Last month, Mr. Cohen’s testimony before a closed-door session of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe was canceled after he leaked his opening statement to the media.

The statement blasted Trump political opponents, taking particular aim at the dossier that has fed conspiracy theories.

Ordered in June 2016 by Glenn R. Simpson, an opposition research specialist who runs Fusion GPS, the document was compiled by ex-British agent Christopher Steele and published online by BuzzFeed in January. It contains a host of allegations that Russian hacking of Democrat Party computers was actively aided by the Trump campaign, the majority of which have been disproved or placed in doubt.

Mr. Cohen came under scrutiny because of negotiations the Trump Organization undertook in 2015 and 2016 to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The proposal ultimately went nowhere.

The dossier makes the sensational charge that he traveled to Prague in the summer of 2016 to meet with Russian agents and organize payoffs to cover up the supposed Russia-Trump hacking.

Mr. Cohen has repeatedly shown Mr. Trump and the media his passport, which contained no trip to Prague. He also showed evidence of his itinerary for visiting his son in California at the time Mr. Steele said he was conspiring with Russians.

Last month he denounced the document as “riddled with total falsehoods” and said too many people in Washington, he said, had chosen “to presume guilt — rather than presuming innocence” in the entire Russia saga.

After canceling the hearing, the Senate Intelligence Committee Russia probe rescheduled Mr. Cohen. He is expected to meet with them behind closed doors on Wednesday.

On Tuesday the House Intelligence Committee also met with the Trump campaign’s digital director, Brad Parscale, who has credited Facebook with helping Mr. Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

Next week House and Senate Russia probes are scheduled to hear testimony from Facebook, Twitter and Google executives amid a swirl of questions over the Kremlin’s use of propaganda on social media aimed at influencing the election and dividing America.

• Dan Boylan can be reached at dboylan@washingtontimes.com.

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