As Russia scandal intensifies, Trump's attorney draws scrutiny

Image: Michael Cohen, attorney for The Trump Organization, arrives at Trump Tower in New York City
Michael Cohen, attorney for The Trump Organization, arrives at Trump Tower in New York City, U.S. January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith - RTSVX0Z

For a while, Donald Trump's Russia scandal largely revolved around a core group of characters: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone. More recently, the cast grew to include Jared Kushner.

Today, the president's own lawyer appears to be included as part of the probe.

President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, confirmed to NBC News that he has received requests for information from the Senate and House intelligence committees as part of their probes into Russian interference in the U.S. election.A congressional aide said the request letters, first reported by ABC News, were the same ones sent to former Trump aides Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn and others. Those letters sought information about Russian contacts, and asked the recipients to turn over any communications with the Trump campaign about Russia.Cohen is a long-time lawyer for both Trump and his business organization. He has served as executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump.

At least for now, Cohen has decided not to cooperate with the lawmakers' request. "I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad, and not capable of being answered," Cohen told ABC News.

Cohen hasn't generally been considered a key figure in the broader controversy, but his name hardly comes out of left field. NBC News' report added, for example, "In the dossier on Trump prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, Cohen was alleged to have attended a secret meeting in Prague to discuss Russia's hacking of Democratic targets, something Cohen has adamantly denied."

As regular readers may recall, there was also a meeting that took place in a hotel lobby in New York in January. Cohen was joined by Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko, a member of a pro-Putin party, and Felix Sater, a businessman who's worked for years to facilitate Trump business deals in Russia. (The trio discussed a plan to end hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, effectively by giving Vladimir Putin everything he wants in exchange for nothing.)

There was also an unfortunate incident from the campaign season, in which Cohen threatened a reporter, saying, "What I'm going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting," He later apologized.

Nevertheless, it's easy to overlook the congressional investigations into the Russia scandal -- they've moved at a snail's pace, and attention has turned to the special counsel's investigation -- but they're clearly advancing in interesting ways.