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Trump attorney Michael Cohen testifies before Senate in closed-door session

Cohen to accuse Trump of criminal conduct
Before Congress, Cohen to accuse Trump of criminal conduct: source 01:49

President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is kicking off his week of congressional testimony by appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday for what is expected to be a lengthy closed-door grilling by lawmakers. It's Cohen's first appearance before Congress since being charged for lying to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees in 2017. 

Cohen arrived to meet with the Senate panel at 9:00 a.m., walking past reporters without making any comments. Cohen is expected to discuss his involvement in plans to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow and whether the president directed him to lie to Congress.

Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Appears Before Closed Senate Intelligence Committee
Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Trump, arrives at the Hart Senate Office Building before testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Feb. 26, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Getty

His closed-door testimony comes as he is set to publicly accuse the president of criminal conduct for the first time during his public hearing on Wednesday, CBS News has confirmed. Cohen's hearing is related to hush money payments to women who alleged to have affairs with Mr. Trump in the months leading up to the election. 

According to a source familiar with the matter, Cohen will provide documents, prepared by Mr. Trump's accountant, that will show the president may have engaged in tax fraud, CBS News correspondent Paula Reid reports. This could be the basis for lawmakers or investigators to pursue Trump's tax returns. The source confirms that Cohen will also accuse the president of using racist language. His comments are described as "chilling" - this language was allegedly used in a series of personal conversations between Mr. Trump and Cohen. 

In response to details of Cohen's testimony, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday, "It's laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."

Cohen, who will start his 3-year prison sentence in early May for violating campaign finance law, will likely face fierce questioning by committee staff and senators during Tuesday's hearing, which could last more than 10 hours. 

"We will be extremely thorough," Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the committee's chairman, told reporters Tuesday evening, adding that he expects to hear the "truth" from Cohen. 

Upon his arrival for the testimony, Burr told reporters that Cohen had a  "questionable track record" While Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said he is "focused on untangling the very complicated financial arrangements between Donald Trump and Russia "

Emily Tillett and Bo Erickson contributed to this report. 

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