WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee plans to question Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, following testimony from Michael Cohen on Wednesday that suggested Weisselberg has information relevant to hush money payments to women during the 2016 campaign and other fraudulent activity in which the Trump Organization may have been involved.
“The Committee anticipates bringing in Mr. Weisselberg,” a Democratic aide told BuzzFeed News on Thursday. The committee’s plans were first reported by the Daily Beast.
Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, brought up Weisselberg several times at a hearing before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday — Cohen's only public appearance on Capitol Hill this week. Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017, provided documents to corroborate some of his claims during the hearing, including a check bearing Weisselberg's signature. Cohen told lawmakers the check was part of a reimbursement for payments he made to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who allegedly had an affair with Trump, to prevent her from taking her story public during the 2016 campaign. Weisselberg was reportedly granted immunity by federal prosecutors last year in the investigation into Cohen.
California Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, expressed support on Thursday for interviewing Weisselberg. "He should be before Congress," Swalwell said, adding that he wasn't sure which committee should be the one to question Weisselberg. "I'll let the chairs sort that out."
Swalwell said there were several questions he wanted Weisselberg to answer. "Was there Russian money coming into the Trump Organization or into Mr. Trump's personal finances, and was he inflating the numbers so Mr. Trump could get loans?" Swalwell said. "Basically, were there vulnerabilities in the finances that would make Donald Trump financially compromised or motivated to want to work with the Russians?"
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, has previously said that there would be “a number of things that" California Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, would "be able to use from our hearing for his hearing.”
There’s reason to believe that the Oversight Committee will also take an interest in talking to Weisselberg. Asked if the committee would bring Weisselberg and Donald Trump Jr. in following the hearing, Cummings said, “we probably will,” adding that there are areas the committee has to be cautious of looking into in order to avoid interfering with work done by special counsel Robert Mueller and the Southern District of New York.
Cummings said that anyone Cohen had named during the hearing would likely be called in to testify, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Spokespeople for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian election interference, declined to say whether the panel wants to interview or had already interviewed Weisselberg.
At Wednesday's hearing, members of the Oversight Committee had several questions about Weisselberg’s work for Trump that could preview the kinds of information the House Intelligence Committee will seek from him.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Cohen if, to his knowledge, Trump had ever provided inflated assets to an insurance company, to which he responded affirmatively. When she followed up to ask who else knew that Trump did that, Weisselberg was among those Cohen named.
Ocasio-Cortez also asked about an October 2018 New York Times report that said Trump participated in tax fraud to increase his own wealth. Cohen said he didn’t know if that report was accurate, but when Ocasio-Cortez followed up to see who would know the answer to questions about the report, Cohen again pointed to Weisselberg.
California Rep. Ro Khanna, another member of the Oversight Committee, questioned Cohen about payments he received from the Trump Organization. He asked Cohen about the check Weisselberg and Donald Trump Jr. signed.
“Payments like this check resulted in numerous false statements in the books and records of the Trump Organization. And it’s important for the American public to understand this. Nothing to do with collusion. This is financial fraud, garden-variety financial fraud. It was disguised as a payment for legal services to you,” Khanna said to Cohen.
“I just want the American public to understand that solely apart from Bob Mueller’s investigation, there is garden-variety financial fraud, and your allegation and the explosive smoking gun document suggests that the president, his son, and his [chief financial officer] may be involved in a criminal conspiracy.”
Weisselberg has worked for the Trump organization for more than 40 years, and initially worked for Fred Trump, Trump’s father. He has remained a constant fixture in Trump world in the decades since he first fell into the family’s orbit, and is so close to the now-president that in a 2016 Wall Street Journal profile, a former Trump employee described the relationship between Weisselberg and Trump by stating, “If Donald had a cold, he would sneeze.”
The White House declined to comment. The Trump Organization did not return a request for comment.
Tarini Parti contributed reporting to this story.
This story has been updated with comment from Rep. Eric Swalwell.