House Intelligence Panel Plans Hearings With Weisselberg, Sater
(Bloomberg) -- The House Intelligence Committee plans to call hearings or interviews with several associates of President Donald Trump, including the chief financial officer of his business.
The panel intends to summon Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, for a hearing, but a date hasn’t been set, an official familiar with the decision said.
Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen told the House Oversight panel on Wednesday that Weisselberg was involved with Cohen in paying hush money to an adult film actress in the days before the election -- with Trump’s blessing. Lawmakers said that Cohen’s seven-hour private interview with the Intelligence Committee on Thursday went even deeper into aspects of his testimony.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said the panel also is scheduling a March 14 public hearing with Felix Sater, an associate of Trump involved in negotiating a possible business deal in Moscow.
Sater once had an office near the future president’s in Trump Tower. He helped develop Trump Soho, a Manhattan hotel condominium, while working for Bayrock Group, and worked with Cohen to develop a Trump luxury tower in Moscow. Work on the project continued well into the presidential campaign in 2016, timing that Cohen initially lied about to Congress.
When asked for comment on his scheduled hearing, Sater responded: “Till the day I die, I stand ready to serve my country that I love. God bless America.”
Weisselberg has served the Trump family for more than 40 years. He started as a bookkeeper for Trump’s father, Fred, in the 1970s. Few know the workings of the family’s enterprise as well as Weisselberg, making him a sought-after witness for investigators.
Weisselberg was granted limited immunity as part of his cooperation with the federal investigation into hush-money payments facilitated by Cohen to two women who threatened to go public with their claims of extramarital affairs with Trump. The company eventually reimbursed Cohen over several months, a payment plan that Cohen told Congress this week was designed by Weisselberg in order to make it appear on the company’s books as payment under a retainer agreement. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have said no such agreement existed.
Long considered Trump’s chief deputy in his business, Weisselberg is the only person not named Trump whom the president trusts with his money. Weisselberg has negotiated Trump’s loans, is a co-signer on his accounts, helps arrange his taxes, and, with Trump’s sons Don Jr. and Eric, oversees the trust that holds all the president’s assets. He “knows of every dime that leaves the building,” former Trump campaign leaders Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie wrote of Weisselberg in a 2017 book.
Before he ran for president, Trump would have workdays that often began and ended with meetings with Weisselberg, according to the president’s 2004 book, Trump: “Think Like a Billionaire.”
“He did whatever was necessary to protect the bottom line — and refused to succumb to the pressures of risk,” Trump wrote of Weisselberg. “He’s so tough that most banks would rather I negotiate the deal than him.”
The panel’s interest in calling Weisselberg was reported earlier by the Daily Beast.
Weisselberg and Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside normal business hours.
Cohen, after finishing closed-door testimony with the House Intelligence panel on Thursday, told reporters that he would return on March 6 for another session with lawmakers and staff.
“I am committed to telling the truth and I will be back on March 6 to finish up,” he said.
Schiff said the committee went through several documents with Cohen -- and have more documents to ask him about. “I can say that on a number of the topics he testified about yesterday we were able to go into great detail, as well as issues important to us not brought up Tuesday’s hearing,” he told reporters.
Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, said, “Once in two years or so, you have a witness that will give you some ‘holy cow’ information.”
“At the end, there were a lot of, ‘Holy cows!’” he said of the Cohen testimony. He said a transcript would be released at a later time when it wouldn’t have potential impact on investigations.
Republicans have dismissed Cohen as a convicted liar, noting he’s about to go to prison after pleading guilty to charges including lying to Congress.
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