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Trump's former lawyer Cohen agrees to testify privately to house panel, chairman says

In December 2018, Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating hush payments to women in violation of campaign laws before the 2016 election.

[WASHINGTON] Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer, has agreed to testify privately next week before the House Intelligence Committee, according to the panel's chairman, after he previously backed out of a different panel's public hearing.

"I want to thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to appear voluntarily," Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California said in announcing the planned Feb 8 appearance behind closed doors.

Last week, Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Cohen wanted to delay public testimony scheduled for Feb 7 before the House Oversight Committee. Mr Davis said Cohen feared for his family's safety after what he called threats from Mr Trump.

"The president has terrorised someone who wanted to tell the truth before Congress," Mr Davis said at the time, citing comments from Mr Trump, including a tweet that Cohen was "lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!"

Mr Davis couldn't immediately be reached for comment on the latest plans. Mr Schiff said, "We will continue to work with Cohen and law enforcement in order to protect Cohen and his family."

A number of congressional committees have been seeking Cohen's testimony before he's due to turn himself in on March 6 to begin serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to nine felonies.

The Senate Intelligence panel has subpoenaed Cohen to testify, according to Mr Davis. And House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, has said his committee hasn't decided whether to issue a subpoena but that Cohen would testify one way or the other.