Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has postponed testimony in Congress citing threats from Mr Trump and the president’s current lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Cohen’s legal rep said.
Cohen’s appearance before the US House Oversight Committee, scheduled for February 7, was put off “due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump and Mr Giuliani, as recently as this weekend,” Lanny Davis said in statement.
“This is a time where Mr Cohen had to put his family and their safety first,” Mr Davis added.
It comes as Donald Trump said he intends to deliver his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress next week, dismissing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s argument that adequate security can’t be provided during the partial government shutdown.
“I will be honouring your invitation,” he told her in a letter, referring to her pro forma invitation weeks ago before she pulled away the welcome mat.
Mrs Pelosi asked Mr Trump last week to postpone the speech or deliver it in writing.
But Mr Trump said in his letter: “It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!”
Mr Trump’s letter is the latest move in a game of brinkmanship between the president and Mrs Pelosi as they remain locked in an increasingly personal standoff over Mr Trump’s demand for border wall money that has forced a partial government shutdown, now in its second month.
In asking him last week to make other plans, Mrs Pelosi stopped short of denying him the forum. Now the White House, in essence, is calling her bluff. Even so, White House officials have been working on a backup plan to have him give the speech somewhere else if Democrats don’t let him do it in the traditional forum, the House chamber, on Tuesday.
Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said it would be “remarkably petty” for the speaker to deny Mr Trump the location.
Each side has been accusing the other of pettiness since Mrs Pelosi raised doubts about the speech and Mr Trump followed up by revoking her use of a military aircraft, thereby cancelling a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan. The president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without both chambers’ explicit permission. A resolution needs to be approved by both chambers specifying the date and time for receiving an address from the president.