Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, arrives to testify in a closed session before the House Intelligence Committee
Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress again on Wednesday, a week after accusing his ex-boss of being a racist, a conman and a cheat in scathing public remarks.
Cohen's day-long appearance before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday was held behind closed doors.
It was the fourth and final scheduled interview with a congressional panel for Trump's longtime lawyer and general fixer.
Cohen made brief remarks to reporters following his testimony.
"I believe that all of the members were satisfied with the statements and the responses that I gave to them," the 52-year-old New Yorker said.
Cohen, who arrived for the hearing toting suitcases full of documents, said he was prepared to provide any additional information the committee members may need as they investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any members of the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow.
Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Cohen had fully cooperated "despite the not so thinly veiled threats emanating from the President and his allies."
Without giving details, Schiff said Cohen had "provided important testimony and materials relevant to the core of our probe and that will allow us to advance our investigation substantially."
Cohen testified in closed session before the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee last week and in public before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Cohen, who is to report to prison on May 6 to begin a three-year sentence for fraud, tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and lying to Congress, expressed regret at the open hearing for his years of devoted service to Trump and accused him of engaging in illegal activity.
Cohen said Trump told him to lie about hush payments made to a porn actress to silence her claims of a 2006 affair with the real estate tycoon.
He said Trump knew in advance in mid-2016 that WikiLeaks would publish emails stolen by the Russians from rival Hillary Clinton's campaign.
And Cohen asserted that lawyers for Trump and his family reviewed and edited his written testimony to Congress in 2017 in which he lied about a Moscow real estate deal.
Cohen, however, produced no fresh evidence that Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia during the election, the subject of an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in addition to the House probe.
- Sweeping new probe -
On Monday, the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee launched a sweeping new investigation into Trump's inner circle, demanding documents from dozens of individuals including the president's sons Don Jr and Eric and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The request is the most serious escalation of the probe into Trump since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in early January, and seeks to uncover whether the president or his administration have engaged in obstruction of justice, corruption, or other wrongdoing.
"Over the last several years, President Trump has evaded accountability for his near-daily attacks on our basic legal, ethical, and constitutional rules and norms," House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said.
"Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress."
The expansive new probe lays the groundwork for possible impeachment proceedings against Trump, who dismissed the ramped-up investigation as a "political hoax."
The president repeated his denials that there had been any collusion between his election campaign and Russia.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday found that 64 percent of the Americans surveyed believe Trump committed crimes before becoming president.
Twenty-four percent of the 1,120 voters polled nationwide said they believed he did not.
Fifty percent of those surveyed said they believe Cohen more than Trump, while 35 percent said they believe Trump more than Cohen.
By a 59-35 percent margin, those polled said Congress should not begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.