News, Culture & Society

GOP congressman accuses Michael Cohen of cheating on his wife on eve of testimony

A Republican congressman took a page from Donald Trump’s book Tuesday by accusing the president’s former fixer Michael Cohen, without evidence, of having multiple affairs – on the eve of the ex-attorney giving blockbuster public testimony when he will call his former boss a liar, a criminal and a racist.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz said in a Tuesday afternoon tweet that Cohen’s wife, Lauren, and her father should talk to the disgraced attorney, suggesting in a tweet that he was hiding more than one illicit relationship from his family.

‘Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…’ he tweeted. 

The Florida congressman’s tweet could be interpreted as witness intimidation – Cohen will testify publicly on Wednesday for the first time about his relationship with the president.

Within less than two hours a Democratic member of the committee, New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell, demanded that Gaetz be investigated for attempting to intimidate a witness. 

Trump has said publicly that journalists should look into Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman and hinted that he is in some way involved in fraud. 

A Republican congressman took a page from Donald Trump’s book and accused the president’s former fixer, without evidence, of having multiple affairs

Family: Michael Cohen and his wife Lauren (right) share two children, Samantha (left) and Jake (second from left)

Cohen’s testimony on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to the Senate Intelligence Committee was classified. He’ll be grilled publicly on Wednesday by lawmakers who sit on House Oversight.   

In an phone interview with the Daily Beast after his tweet, Gaetz, who is not on Oversight, insisted he’s not attempting to intimidate Cohen.

He said said he was merely ‘challenging the veracity and character of a witness’ before Cohen’s public testimony.

‘We do it everyday. We typically do it during people’s testimony,’ he said. ‘This is what it looks like to compete in the marketplace of ideas.’

Gaetz insisted that he was not directed to issue the tweet by the Trump or anyone inside the administration. He did not tell the Daily Beast how he knew about Cohen’s alleged philandering, either.

He told the publication he believes that Cohen’s marriage is fair game, because it speaks to the ‘veracity’ of the congressman’s testimony. One of Cohen’s admitted crimes is deceit. 

Cohen apologized to senators on Tuesday for lying in previous testimony as he started three days of testimony on Capitol Hill, where the topics will include racist remarks he’s heard from the president and allegations of criminal activity on the part of Trump.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told DailyMail.com that Cohen – who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress – appeared credible to lawmakers and apologized to them. 

‘He appeared credible to me today, and he apologized, he said he was going away, you know, he understands, and I think he made efforts to be absolutely truthful,’ she said. 

Video attack: Republican released this YouTube advert mocking Cohen before he heads to federal prison

Video attack: Republican released this YouTube advert mocking Cohen before he heads to federal prison

Arrival: Michael Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first of three days of blockbuster hearings

Arrival: Michael Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first of three days of blockbuster hearings

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told DailyMail.com that Cohen - who pled guilty to lying to Congress - appeared credible to lawmakers and apologized

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told DailyMail.com that Cohen – who pled guilty to lying to Congress – appeared credible to lawmakers and apologized

Aide: Michael Cohen was accompanied by Lanny Davis, the long-term Clinton advisor who is acting as his personal attorney

Arrival: Michael Cohen arrived on on Capitol Hill at precisely the same time as Donald Trump, his former boss was touching down in Vietnam

Same time: Donald Trump arrived in Hanoi for a summit with Kim Jong Un exactly as the former fixer he has branded a liar arrived on Capitol Hill

Same time: Donald Trump arrived in Hanoi for a summit with Kim Jong Un exactly as the former fixer he has branded a liar arrived on Capitol Hill

Cohen’s credibility has been questioned given his admission he lied to lawmakers when he appeared before the House and Senate intelligence committees in 2017.

Feinstein declined to offer specific details on what Cohen, who was known as Trump’s fixer, discussed with committee members.

‘The part I was in, which is about two hours, umm, he answered questions, he was really – it’s classified, so I can’t tell you much. I think that most of us know that this is very complicated picture,’ she said.

Cohen’s appearance on Tuesday was behind closed doors so lawmakers could grill him on a variety of matters, including Trump’s business dealings with Russia. 

Additionally Cohen will offer senators a document that he claims shows the president engaged in criminal conduct around the hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, it was revealed Tuesday.

The document will refute a claim by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani that Cohen used a $35,000 monthly retainer from the president as reimbursement for paying off Daniels, a source close to Cohen told Politico. 

Giuliani has said Cohen used a monthly retainer made for legal services in reimbursement as repayment for the $130,000 given to Daniels in exchange for her silence.

The documents will show who signed the checks to Cohen, the Daily Beast reported. 

As he gave evidence Cohen also learned that he was disbarred in New York because of his felony conviction in a ruling which prevents him practicing law. He had not attempted to fight the move.

It's over: How Michael Cohen was formally barred from being an attorney in New York

It’s over: How Michael Cohen was formally barred from being an attorney in New York

Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign-finance laws by facilitating payments to Daniels. 

Cohen will also discuss the BuzzFeed report that Trump ordered him to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. The article earned a rare – if carefully worded – denial from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.  

‘He’ll explain exactly why he lied and how he came to lie,’ said the source told Politico. 

Republican Sen. Susan Collins told reporters Cohen was receiving an ‘extensive grilling’ from the intelligence panel. 

But the White House voiced anger at the ex-fixer’s high-profile session.

‘It’s 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,’ Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to the flash of cameras lights and shouted questions but he didn’t say a word as he walked into the Senate hearing room with Lanny Davis, the former Bill Clinton advisor who is acting as his attorney, and begins the first of three days of hearings.

He arrived 30 minutes before his time before senators was set to begin and is expected to be behind closed doors all day.  

Senators trickled into the hearing room after his arrival but few spoke about what they wanted to ask the president’s former fixer.

Some, however, offered hints at what they were looking for.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden told reporters outside the hearing room he’s interested in following the money when it comes to Cohen’s work on Trump Tower Moscow.

But one issue he wouldn’t touch was whether Cohen – who plead guilty to lying to Congress – can be trusted to tell the truth in this appearance.

‘I’ll leave it at that,’ Wyden said when asked that question.

Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich, as he entered the hearing room, said he was looking for ‘the truth.’ 

In his testimony, Cohen also intends to reveal information about Trump’s financial statements, an anonymous source told the network. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the ex-fixer would accuse Trump of using racist language, recount times when the president questioned the ‘intelligence’ and criticized the ‘lifestyle choices’ of black people.  

The fixer-turned-felon will say he witnessed ‘lies, racism and cheating,’ it reported. 

He was on his way to raise his hand before the Senate Intelligence Committee to kick off a three-day, back-to-back trio of appearances on Capitol Hill where he will face multiple grillings from lawmakers on his relationship with President Donald Trump and his guilty plea to lying to Congress.

Cohen’s closed-door testimony is a prelude to his public appearance on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, to be followed by a second private session on Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee.

Wednesday’s public hearing will overshadow the others merely by the presence of TV cameras, to which both Cohen and the lawmakers will be playing to as they engage in a verbal parley on a variety of issues, including the building of Trump Tower Moscow, the payoffs to women during the 2016 campaign, Trump’s business dealings, and donations to the president’s inaugural committee. 

Lawmakers are also girding to ask him questions about a planned Moscow tower project that he pursued well into the 2016 presidential campaign. He plans to tell lawmakers Trump asked him about it ‘several times.’ 

He further plans to talk about Trump’s ‘lies, racism and cheating as a private businessman,’ according to the account.

Trump and his legal team have repeatedly branded Cohen as a liar, and say he cooperated with prosecutors and furnished false information to get a reduced jail sentence.     

But one topic not the public agenda: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any possible collusion between Trump’s team and Moscow. 

Oversight panel chairman Elijah Cummings coordinated with his counterpart on the House Intel panel, Adam Schiff, and the two agreed the Russia conversation will happen discussed behind closed doors at the intelligence session while Trump’s business dealings will be the focus of the public hearing, according to a memo released Sunday by the Oversight panel.

Lawmakers can dismiss the chairman’s guidance and ask whatever they chose, but Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, also said his client cannot talk about the Russia probe in public. 

Senators, meanwhile, are eager to have Cohen in their crosshairs on Tuesday.

‘I think the reason you have him back is, when somebody lies to Congress in an investigation like this, the questions you might have asked the next witness don’t get asked. Somebody you might have called doesn’t get called,’ Senate intelligence panel member Sen. Roy Blunt said Sunday on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’

However, Republicans are already preparing to cast doubts on Cohen’s credibility – one of Trump’s legal team’s major arguments against the president’s former personal attorney.

‘I don’t know that we believe him this time,’ Blunt noted. 

Republicans will be just as hard on Cohen as Democrats, particularly those closed tied to the president.  

Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, two of Trump’s staunches allies on Capitol Hill, sent a letter to Cohen’s attorneys last week saying they intend to press the president’s former personal lawyer on his questionable business dealings, his lies to Congress, his work for foreign entities, and even ‘the fake Women for Cohen social media initiative he commissioned.’

One person who won’t be in town for the show is President Trump, who jetted off to Vietnam on Monday for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But he will have the ability to tweet even with the 12 hour time difference. 

This week marks Cohen’s first time before lawmakers since he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timing of talks concerning the building of a Trump Tower Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Lawmakers have indicated that will be a major topic of interest. 

‘Well, a great deal starting with why the false statements before our committee when he first appeared. Did they go beyond what he told us about Moscow Trump Tower into other areas as well?,’ House Intelligence panel chair Rep. Adam Schiff said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday. 

Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, who also sits on the Intelligence panel, said he wants to know the same.

‘Well, you know, Michael Cohen is going to jail for lying to my committee. So obviously, step one is to re-ask him the questions that he felt he needed to lie to us about, when he testified in the last Congress. So we’re going to want to get to the truth, allow him to correct the record. And then, of course, the question is, okay, now that we know the truth, what are the follow-ups? It’s going to be an interesting week in that regard,’ he said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’

Elijah Cummings

Adam Schiff

Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (left) and Adam Schiff (right) will chair Wednesday’s and Thursday’s House hearings respectively

Himes also said Cohen could be more forthcoming behind closed doors than in Wednesday’s public circus. 

‘I don’t think he’s going to say a lot that is classified. But he may have some things that he doesn’t feel comfortable saying publicly that he then wants to say either to the Senate or to the House Intelligence Committees, in closed session,’ he said.

Last week, Cohen got a two-month reprieve from his deadline to report for his three years in jail, with a judge giving him until May 6. One of the reasons cited was his upcoming congressional testimony. 

Cohen received a three-year sentence in December for bank and tax fraud, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws. 

Even though Cohen can’t talk about in public what he told Robert Mueller in the 70 hours he spent talking to that team for the special counsel’s Russia investigation, he will speak publicly about his relationship with the president.

Cohen attorney Lanny Davis said last Tuesday his client will reveal how Trump is ‘bigoted,’ ‘treats people badly,’ and talk about he’s heard the president say disparaging things about black people behind closed doors.

‘I believe the issue in 2020 which Michael Cohen can speak to better than anyone is the man lacks character,’ Davis told ABC’s ‘The Investigation’ podcast. ‘He speaks in bigoted words in private, which Michael Cohen will tell you. He treats people badly. He has no moral character in defrauding people in his businesses, and going bankrupt, and taking cash out, and putting people out of work. He lacks the moral compass that we expect in our presidents.’  

But Davis said Cohen will be able to talk about ‘what did you do for Mr. Trump for all those years and why.’

Trump’s legal team has already made their case against Cohen by painting him as an unreliable witness.

Both Trump’s lawyers and the president himself have pushed back against any comments Cohen may have made to Mueller or will make in public by labeling him as a rat and turn coat who can’t be believed.

Davis conceded that Cohen knows he has a ‘deep hole to climb out’ of in terms of credibility.

But he argued his client has seen the light and wants to make amends for his past work for the president. 

‘He wouldn’t take a pardon if Trump pleaded with him to take it. Why? Because it would be dirty,’ Davis told ABC News. 

Cohen has been cooperating with the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 election. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was the lead federal prosecutor earlier this year when Cohen pled guilty to eight counts, including tax fraud and campaign finance violations – that stemmed from the special counsel’s investigation.

Cohen also has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline of conversations he had with Russian officials about building a Trump Tower Moscow as part of separate investigation by Mueller’s team.

He was sentenced to three years in prison and is free on bail until that time. 

Cohen’s guilty pleas included a charge of lying to Congress about a Trump Organization real estate project that was slated for Moscow, Russia and discussed through the fall of 2016 while the president was running for office.

He testified in a closed congressional interview that the project he pursued on Trump’s behalf was abandoned by the time of the Iowa Caucuses in January 2016; that would be consistent with Trump’s ‘political messaging.’ 

Mueller later filed documents revealing Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president’s family, later in the year – even after Trump became the Republican nominee for president.  

Cohen said he lied out of loyalty to Trump. 

Stormy Daniels

Karen McDougal

Cohen also played a role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels (left) and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal (right)

‘I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1,’ Cohen said at his plea hearing late last year. 

‘Individual 1’ is Mueller’s name for Trump in the investigation. 

Cohen was also the central figure in a plot to buy the silence of pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Trump in 2006. 

Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen, a transaction that he admitted was a violation of campaign finance laws since it amounted to an illegally large contribution benefiting Trump’s White House hopes. 

He said in court that Trump directed him to make the payment, suggesting the president was guilty of a crime. 

In August he pleaded guilty to eight separate charges related to tax dodges, falsifying bank documents and the campaign finance violations involving Daniels and another woman, former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal.

Cohen claims that at Trump’s request, he arranged for the publisher of The National Enquirer to pay McDougal – another self-described past Trump paramour – for the exclusive rights to her life story. The magazine never published anything, engaging in a practice known as ‘catch and kill’ in order to help Trump avoid new scandals in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign. 

Trump has denied ever having a sexual relationship with either Daniels or McDougal.  

ROBERT MUELLER’S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED

GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN 

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence

Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN

Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018

Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump. 

He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from  taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.

And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and  recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.

Campaign role: Paul Manafort chaired Trump's campaign for four months - which included the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, where he appeared on stage beside Trump who was preparing  to formally accept the Republican nomination

GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT

Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to two further charges. Awaiting sentence

Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.

Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.  

GUILTY: RICK GATES 

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.

GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018

 Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY AND JAILED: RICHARD PINEDO

Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced to a year in prison

Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands on his release

Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.

GUILTY:  W. SAMUEL PATTEN

Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence

Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration.

He arranged for an American ‘straw donor’ to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.

Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.   

CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK

Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. At large, probably in Russia

Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.

He has been linked to  Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.

INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS 

Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. They remain at large in Russia

Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud. 

Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S. 

INDICTED: MICHAEL FLYNN’S BUSINESS PARTNERS

Bijan Kian (left), number two in now disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s lobbying company, and the two’s business partner Ekim Alptekin (right) were indicted for conspiracy to lobby illegally. Kian is awaiting trial, Alptekin is still to appear in court

Kian, an Iranian-American was arrested and appeared in court charged with a conspiracy to illegally lobby the U.S government without registering as a foreign agent. Their co-conspirator was Flynn, who is called ‘Person A’ in the indictment and is not charged, offering some insight into what charges he escaped with his plea deal.

Kian, vice-president of Flynn’s former lobbying firm, is alleged to have plotted with Alptekin to try to change U.S. policy on an exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who is accused by Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of trying to depose him.

Erdogan’s government wanted him extradited from the U.S. and paid Flynn’s firm through Alptekin for lobbying, including an op-ed in The Hill calling for Gulen to be ejected. Flynn and Kian both lied that the op-ed was not paid for by the Turkish government. 

The indictment is a sign of how Mueller is taking an interest in more than just Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

 INDICTED: ROGER STONE 

Roger Stone, a former Trump campaign official and longtime informal advisor to Trump, was incited on seven counts including obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks.

Stone was a person of interest to Mueller’s investigators long before his January indictment, thanks in part due to his public pronouncements as well as internal emails about his contacts with WikiLeks.

In campaign texts and emails, many of which had already been publicly revealed before showing up in Mueller’s indictment, Stone communicated with associates about WikiLeaks following reports the organization had obtained a cache of Clinton-related emails.

Stone, a former Nixon campaign adviser who has the disgraced former president’s face permanently tattooed on his back, has long been portrayed as a central figure in the election interference scandal, but as recently as January 4 told Dailymail.com that he doesn’t expect to be indicted.

‘They got nothing,’ he said of the special counsel’s investigation.

According to the federal indictment, Stone gave ‘false and misleading’ testimony about his requests for information from WikiLeaks. He then pressured a witness, comedian Randy Credico, to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify, and pressured him in a series of emails. Following a prolonged dispute over testimony, he called him a ‘rat’ and threatened to ‘take that dog away from you’, in reference to Credico’s pet, Bianca. Stone warned him: ‘Let’s get it on. Prepare to die.’   

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.