Senate Intel Committee staff delays interview with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

The Senate Intelligence Committee has delayed its meeting with President Trump's personal lawyer and confidant Michael Cohen Tuesday morning.

The committee was expected to interview Cohen Tuesday at 9 a.m. as part of its investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but decided to postpone the inquiry after Cohen released an opening statement to the press ahead of the meeting.

In his opening statement, which was obtained by The Associated Press, Cohen addressed revelations from last month that the Trump Organization had given some consideration to a business proposal in Russia during the presidential election -- a Trump Tower project in Moscow.

It was "solely a real estate deal and nothing more," Cohen said in his statement. Cohen said that the postponement occurred after he had already been in the committee's offices for about an hour and a half Tuesday morning, according to the AP. 

Cohen has previously acknowledged that he reached out to the spokesman for President Vladimir Putin on behalf of the Trump Organization's pursuit of the Trump Tower project and says in his statement that the proposed deal was abandoned in January 2016 — "months before the very first primary" — and that he was simply "doing my job."

He also said that he had seen no evidence that Trump was involved in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"It was a request of the Senate Intel to postpone, and I'll be back, and I look forward to giving all the information that they're looking for," Cohen told reporters Tuesday morning.

When asked why his testimony was delayed, Cohen responded, "That's a question you're going to have to ask the Senate," and did not take any further questions.

Later Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, issued a joint statement regarding the meeting. 

"We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today's interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with Committee staff, in spite of the Committee's requests that he refrain from public comment," the statement reads. "As a result, we declined to move forward with today's interview and will reschedule Mr. Cohen's appearance before the Committee in open session at a date in the near future. The Committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith with the Senate."

Cohen's attorney Stephen Ryan told reporters that he and his client will continue to stand by the four-page opening statement that was intended to be released to the press ahead of Cohen's meeting with the committee. 

"That statement was factual, it was accurate, it was respectful and we stand behind that statement," Ryan said. "The committee has chosen to postpone today's meeting, and we will come back for a voluntary interview whenever we can to meet with them, and we look forward to voluntarily cooperating."

Cohen has denied any personal connection to the Russian government, including allegations that he had a secret meeting with Kremlin-connected officials in Prague in the summer leading up to the U.S. presidential election. He has also has refuted claims made in a 35-page dossier regarding Mr. Trump's alleged campaign collusion efforts.

The Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees have issued multiple subpoenas over the past few months to various members of Mr. Trump's personal sphere, including Mr. Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner as well as former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.