The Note: Will the public ever hear from Michael Cohen?

The TAKE with John Verhovek

With the news that Michael Cohen has postponed his highly anticipated public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee due to what his lawyer described as “ongoing threats against his family” from President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, we now seem to have entered yet another bizarre chapter that’s ensnared the White House for months.

Trump claims that Cohen is “threatened by the truth.”

But whatever the truth behind the nature of the alleged threats Cohen described, it would ultimately be an unfortunate development that the public may not get to hear from the man who seems to be at the center of so many unanswered questions.

In December, a federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, to three years in prison for various crimes including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.

Cohen is due in federal prison March 6.

Questions remain as to whether the public will ever be able to hear and judge for themselves Cohen’s answers to key questions only the House Judiciary Committee is in a position to ask.

The RUNDOWN with Adam Kelsey

Typically, the first news of a mass shooting leads to an immediate response from Washington — expressions of condolences, an offer of thoughts and prayers, calls for gun control or calls for more good guys with guns. But on Wednesday, it was unusually quiet.

Five people were killed in a shooting at a bank in Sebring, Florida, but, whether because of the government shutdown, the related wrangling over the State of the Union or something else entirely, America’s leaders didn’t seem to notice.

It could be, in part, that such acts of violence have become all too common, but the indifference may also be reflective of the political navel-gazing that’s allowed some 800,000 federal employees to work a month without pay, with many unable to pay bills and put food on the table.

A number of potential Democratic presidential candidates — former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in particular — are pledging to make gun control a centerpiece of their campaigns, but at a point in time in which five lives can be lost in an instant without registering so much as a blip on the political radar, it could require quite a bit of wrangling to remind the country’s leaders that it’s a debate worth pursuing.

Chris OMeara/AP
Law enforcement officers stand near a Florida Department of Law Enforcement vehicle that is parked in front of SunTrust Bank branch, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla..

The TIP with Ben Siegel

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, has temporarily stepped down from her House Judiciary subcommittee leadership position following a lawsuit from a woman who claims she was fired by the congresswoman after she said she was sexually assaulted by a supervisor at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Jackson Lee was the chairwoman of the foundation, the fundraising arm of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The federal lawsuit accuses the veteran lawmaker’s office and the foundation of retaliation after the woman was sexually assaulted by a fellow employee in 2015 and threatened to sue, according to The Associated Press. The New York Times reported that Jackson Lee has adamantly denied the claim.

“I fully support her decision to voluntarily and temporarily step back from the Crime Subcommittee Chair position to ensure the Subcommittee’s important work continues,” U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the House Judiciary Committee chairman wrote in a statement. “This decision does not suggest any culpability by Representative Jackson Lee.”

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., will serve as the interim chair until the matter is resolved and Jackson Lee can resume her role, Nadler’s statement said.

PHOTO: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.J. Scott Applewhite/AP, FILE
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Today’s episode features ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, who explains the back and forth between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the State of the Union address. ABC News’ Luke Barr says the ongoing shutdown could soon impact conditions in federal prisons. And ABC News’ Aaron Katersky explains why Michael Cohen has postponed his upcoming congressional testimony. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. on Capitol Hill.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington at 8:45 a.m.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also will speak at the conference, at 1:30 p.m.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will appear on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”
  • The Note has a new look! Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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