WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer on Tuesday denied that he or Trump colluded with Russia to interfere in last year’s presidential election, and said such charges were meant to discredit Trump’s presidency.
“I emphatically state that I had nothing to do with any Russian involvement in our electoral process,” Michael Cohen said in a statement prepared for a scheduled meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators that was ultimately postponed.
“Given my own proximity to the president of the United States as a candidate, let me also say that I never saw anything - not a hint of anything - that demonstrated his involvement in Russian interference in our election or any form of Russia collusion,” Cohen said.
After the statement was reported by media organizations on Tuesday morning, Cohen and his attorney, Stephen Ryan, traveled to Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with Intelligence Committee investigators - but were told that the committee had decided to postpone the meeting.
The Senate committee, as well as other congressional panels and special counsel Robert Mueller, are investigating Russia’s reported interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his top aides colluded with Moscow.
Cohen’s name surfaced in a dossier, compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, that reported Cohen played an important role in liaison with the Russian government and secretly met with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016.
The Steele dossier, Cohen said in his statement, is “riddled with falsehoods and intentionally salacious allegations.”
“I have never in my life been to Prague or to anywhere in the Czech Republic,” he said.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials have said that while they cannot verify all the details in the Steele dossier, neither have they debunked it entirely.
It was not immediately clear why Cohen’s meeting with Senate investigators was postponed.
“The committee has chosen to postpone today’s interview and we will come back for a voluntary interview whenever we can to meet with them,” Ryan told reporters. “Mr. Cohen will continue to co-operate.”
Cohen said in his statement that the collusion charges are meant to discredit Trump’s presidency.
“I‘m also certain that there are some in this country who do not care about the facts, but simply want to politicize this issue, choosing to presume guilt - rather than presuming innocence - so as to discredit our lawfully elected president in the public eye,” he said.
Reporting by Warren Strobel and Eric Walsh. Editing by Steve Orlofsky