Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s public Wednesday appearance before the House Oversight Committee has opened up a whole new round of lines of inquiry for concerned House Democrats, who are now intent on bringing in longtime Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg in for testimony. A Democratic aide to the House Intelligence Committee told the Daily Beast this week simply that “the committee anticipates bringing in Mr. Weisselberg.” There is no immediate indication of a timetable for that appearance.
During his Wednesday testimony, Cohen repeatedly pointed to Weisselberg as someone who could both back up some of his claims and fill in gaps where he did not have information. For instance, he told Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) that the Trump Organization official could back up his incendiary claim that Trump had lied to insurance companies, which is a crime. He also suggested that Weisselberg could explain how on-point The New York Times‘ assertion really was that Trump had engaged in tax schemes that crossed into fraud over his inheritance and the family business.
Cohen testified privately before the House Intel Committee on Thursday, and he could have easily spilled more information about Weisselberg there. That committee is operating under a new investigative mandate handed down by Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to look into not just possible Trump team ties to Russia, but also any and all Trump team financial ties to foreign interests that could have been or could be used for leverage at any point.
President Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns, which could assist such an endeavor, and he has rebuffed Schiff’s new investigative effort as “presidential harassment.”
Meanwhile, down in the real world, evidence-based investigations into the Trump team are continuing. Weisselberg has already been drawn into one, having reportedly been granted limited immunity as part of New York federal prosecutors’ probe into an illegal hush money scheme targeting women with whom Trump had affairs. Cohen is going to jail for three years in part because of his work distributing that money, which he completed at the direction of none other than Donald Trump — and was reimbursed for, by Donald Trump, while he was in office as president!
Weisselberg is also expected to be summoned for questioning by the House Oversight Committee, which has indicated no intent to back down in the face of the intel panel going after the same guy. Besides being long in on the operations of the Trump family business, he also serves as the Trump family’s personal accountant, and is well poised to answer plenty of questions.
Trump has rebuffed Cohen’s testimony, as one might have expected. He claimed that Cohen lied about the vast majority of the topics discussed on Wednesday, although he misrepresented the former lawyer’s remarks about possible Trump team collusion with Russia and praised him on that point, although Cohen didn’t actually say “no collusion.”
In reality, Cohen shared that he had suspicions about the now president’s team’s ties to the Kremlin — and Allen Weisselberg could help answer some of the remaining questions.
It remains to be seen whether he’s a cooperative witness.
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