According to AP News, on Wednesday Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to President Trump, said under oath that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had Hillary Clinton’s personal emails, although Trump said that he knew nothing about them before they were released. Cohen testified that Trump is a “racist,” “conman,” and a “cheat.” Cohen also said that Trump implied that Cohen should lie about a Moscow real estate project. Cohen plead guilty to lying to Congress about the Moscow project.
Cohen, who once insisted that he would “take a bullet” for Trump, has implicated him in what could potentially be Trump’s largest scandal yet.
“I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty, of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him,” Cohen said. “I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.”
Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee focused on casting doubt on Cohen’s credibility. One GOP lawmaker accused Cohen of being a pathological liar, to which Cohen responded, “Sir, are you referring to me or the president?”
Republican Representative Jim Jordan (OH.) tried to undermine Cohen’s credibility by calling him a “fraudster, cheat” and “convicted felon.”
“Certainly it’s the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness at a hearing,” Jordan said.
White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said it was “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 also said that prosecutors are investigating conversations that Trump or his advisors had with him after the FBI raided his hotel room for documents.
He testified that the last contact he had with Trump or any agent representing Trump was about two months after the FBI raided his hotel room in April 2018. He did not offer specifics, and said only that federal prosecutors were investigating the matter.
It is unclear if Cohen has any evidence to support the WikiLeaks contradiction, and if so, what legal repercussions the president would face. His awareness of the leak may not be a crime.
Cohen explained that while Trump never explicitly told him to lie, “he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing.”
“In his way, he was telling me to lie,” Cohen explained. He continued that Trump’s lawyers “reviewed and edited” Cohen’s statement in which he falsely claimed that a proposal for Trump Tower in Moscow was abandoned in January 2016. Cohen pursued the project for months after that date.
Trump fired back against Cohen on Twitter, saying that his lawyer “did bad things unrelated to Trump” and “is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”
Cohen’s sentence has already been set, and his testimony will not change his prison term.
Cohen testified that in July 2016, he was in Trump’s office when his advisor, Roger Stone called. Trump put Stone on speakerphone and Stone said that he was in contact with founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange and “within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” Trump allegedly responded, “wouldn’t that be great.”
In his prepared testimony, Cohen said, “A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.”
Although he doesn’t have evidence that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, he has “suspicions.”
Cohen will begin his three year prison sentence in May for lying to Congress in 2017 and committing campaign finance violations for Trump. The campaign finance violations involve his paying off two women who alleged that they had affairs with Trump. He has evidence that he paid off Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels.
Cohen said that he appreciated being given the opportunity to “clear the record and tell the truth” once he admitted lying to Congress in 2017.