Former longtime Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen unloaded on his former boss in congressional testimony on Wednesday, bringing a pair of $35,000 checks he cashed as partial reimbursement of ‘hush money’ he paid to alleged Trump paramours Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
In a hotly anticipated hearing tainted by Cohen’s own admission he has lied to Congress in the past, he branded the president a ‘racist,’ a ‘conman’ and a ‘cheat,’ claim he heard Roger Stone tell then-candidate Trump about illicit campaign contacts with WikiLeaks and allege Donald trump Jr. secretly told his father ahead of time about an infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting attended by a Kremlin-tied Russian lawyer.
Like other witnesses in Capitol Hill hearings, Cohen swore an oath to tell the truth. But Cohen has already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress during testimony in 2018. DailyMail.com was unable to find another case on Wednesday where a congressional committee devoted a hearing to testimony from someone in that circumstance.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, has claimed in interviews that Trump paid Cohen a monthly retainer of $35,000 for legal services, as reimbursement for the campaign-year payoffs to the women, who have said they bedded Trump more than a decade ago. Trump has denied ever being sexually involved with either Daniels, a pornographic actress, or McDougal, a former Playboy mode.
One check provided to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was signed by Trump himself in August 2017, more than six months into his administration, and issued from what Cohen says is the president’s personal account.
The other is from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – and signed by both Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
A Trump Organization official told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Donald Trump Jr. was unaware when he signed the check that it was part of a repayment plan for Cohen’s hugh-money outlay.
SCROLL DOWN TO READ COHEN’S COMPLETE TESTIMONY
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, speaking for the first time in a public forum about his experiences related to his criminal conduct and the president’s alleged role
Cohen faced immediate questions about his credibility since he is a convicted felon who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress already
Cohen has provided members of Congress with two checks, one signed by the president and the other by his son Donald Jr, which he says was reimbursement for payments meant to keep Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal quiet; President Trump’s check was written after he had been president for more than a half-year
The Donald Trump Jr.-signed check was dated in March 2017, and was drawn on a family Trust; A Trump Organization official told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Trump Jr. was unaware when he signed it that it was part of a repayment plan for Cohen’s hugh-money outlay
President Trump was in Hanoi, Vietnam on Wednesday, brushing off the Cohen media circus and focusing on a long-awaited second summit with north korean dictator Kim Jong Un (right)
The president tweeted a trans-pacific slap at Cohen, torching his credibility as a disbarred former lawyer who lied to Congress and will report to prison in May
Wednesday’s hearing opened with Republican Rep. Mark Meadows attempting to delay it for a day, saying Cohen had broken the committee’s rules by not giving members 24 hours to review his testimony before delivering it in person.
Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings shot him down, with Democrats overruling the motion.
SKEPTICS HIT CONVICTED LIAR
Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said Cohen’s credibility ‘is a legitimate question.’ Cummings is a former prosecutor.
‘As he has admitted, he has repeatedly lied in the past,’ Cummings said.
But he insisted that following two years of denials from Trump, ‘the American people have a right to hear the other side. They should watch Mr. Cohen’s testimony and make their own judgments.’
For committee Republicans, too, skepticism was the order of the day.
Ranking Republican Jim Jordan called Cohen ‘a guy who can’t be trusted.’
‘It’s the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing,’ he said during his opening statement, calling the star witness ‘a guy who is going to prison in two months for? Lying to Congress.’
Jordan also claimed former Bill Clinton lawyer Lanny Davis, who represents Cohen, organized the hearing. Davis sat behind Cohen in the first row.
Cohen wants to get out from under the shame of a three-year prison term for lying to Congress, and used a return trip to Capitol Hill to bare his soul about everything Trump
Ready for his closeup: Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive and attorney for President Donald Trump, arrived Wednesday to testify in a House hearing to discuss the president’s involvement in a hush-money scheme to quiet his alleged mistresses as he ran for the White House in 2016
‘This is the Michael Cohen hearing presented by Lanny Davis. That’s right: Lanny Davis choreographed the entire thing. The Clintons’ best friend!’ he marveled.
‘He told our committee staff that this was his idea. … He had to persuade the chairman to actually have it,’ Jordan said.
‘We have some serious questions about Michael Cohen,’ Kentucky Rep. James Comer said Wednesday morning on CNN.
‘The fact that he’s the sole witness; and the fact that he’s already lied once to Congress; he’s a convicted felon who was just disbarred this week from the New York Bar,’ he said.
‘I mean, the credibility factor with Michael Cohen is probably the lowest we’ve ever seen for a major witness in congressional testimony history.’
Carl Bernstein, the famed Watergate-era journalist, resisted comparing Cohen to John Dean, President Richard Nixon’s White House counsel who became a whistleblower in 1973.
‘This guy was a flunkie. He was a runner. He was a fixer,’ Bernstein said of Cohen. ‘Trump always held him in relative contempt.’
The House Oversight Committee hearin room included display boards brought by Republicans seeking to impeach the former Trump fixer’s credibility
While the Cohen circus was getting underway in Washington, President Trump was leaving a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam
But in 20 pages of prepared testimony released Tuesday night, Cohen claimed to have inside information that suggested a much more exalted perch in Trumpworld.
THE ROGER STONE SAGA
He blasted his former employer and mentor for an alleged June 2016 conversation with Republican dirty-trickster Roger Stone.
Cohen claims Stone told him that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had told him a ‘massive dump’ of emails harmful to Hillary Clinton would be released in just a few days.
Stone has claimed he knew nothing about the torrent of emails that would eventually trickle out a month at a time, all hacked from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. He also insists he has had no contact with WikiLeaks.
But U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russian agents stole the materials and used WikiLeaks as a conduit to make them public. Stone, Federal prosecutors have charged Stone, Trump’s longtime informal adviser whospolitical monkeywrenching dates back to the Nixon era, with witness tampering and lying to Congress.
‘Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange,’ Cohen recounts in his prepared testimony, ‘and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.’
In a statement to reporters, Stone said Wednesday: ‘Mr. Cohen’s statement is not true.’
Stone is under a gag order in his own federal trial for obstruction of an official proceeding, false statements and witness tampering
Cohen will report to prison in May to serve a three-year sentence for crimes he has admitted to, including lying previously to House investigators.
MICHAEL COHEN’S MOST DAMNING QUOTES ABOUT TRUMP IN HIS OPENING STATEMENT
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. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat. He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.
Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In this way, he was telling me to lie.
Mr Trump made clear to me, through his personal statement to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie.
Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal courts to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1. For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump.
Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He has no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.
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.
Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer country ‘shitholes.’ In private he is even worse. He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was President.
Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets.
Cohen spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee for nine hours on Tuesday
Aide: Michael Cohen was accompanied by Lanny Davis, the long-term Clinton advisor who is acting as his personal attorney
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told DailyMail.com that Cohen – who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress – appeared credible to lawmakers and apologized on Tuesday
As a stunning series of revelations stole much of the media spotlight away from Trump’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the president shook his head when a reporter asked him to comment on the controversy.
Instead, the president fired back on Twitter from Hanoi, Vietnam.
‘Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also,’ Trump tweeted.
‘He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!’
Trump called Hillary Clinton ‘Crooked Hillary’ during their 2016 campaign clashes. Lanny Davis, who represented Bill Clinton during the 1990s Monica Lewinsky scandal, is now one of Cohen’s attorneys.
Cohen had two other clients: fellow Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman Elliott Broidy and Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity.
Broidy is reportedly under federal investigation for his alleged role in schemes to sell his influence in Trumpworld, including deals with Chinese and Malaysian companies.
He engaged in his own hush-money scheme, paying $1.6 million to former Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard to cover up a sexual affair.
TRUMP NEVER WANTED THE WHITE HOUSE
Cohen’s 20-page statement, dripping with contempt for his former employer, describes Trump as ‘is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.’
Cohen claims the president often said his White House campaign ‘was going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history.’
‘He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity,’ according to the disgraced former attorney who lost his license to practice law on Tuesday.
Cohen also played a role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels (left) and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal (right)
‘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. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat. He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails,’ Cohen says.
THE TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Cohen also describes being present and hearing cryptic comments by Donald Trump Jr. to his father in early June of 2016 that Cohen believes referenced a Trump Tower meeting with Russians
‘I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: ‘The meeting is all set.’ I remember Mr. Trump saying, ‘Ok good … let me know,’ according to Cohen.
June is when Don Jr., former campaign chair Paul Manafort, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
32 months later, it’s impossible to verify if Don Jr. was discussing another matter.
The president’s eldest son mocked Cohen Wednesday on Twitter, responding to a conservative who noted that Congressional Democrats had invited a high-profile witness to testify after he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.
‘This time it’s different,’ he tweeted, adding an emoji depicting an eye-roll.
It’s over: How Michael Cohen was formally barred from being an attorney in New York
‘Only Democrats could hate someone so much that they would try to disrupt nuclear peace talks with testimony from a convicted felon,’ he added.
Cohen didn’t spare himself from criticism on the eve of losing his freedom.
‘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. I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,’ Cohen said.
‘He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails,’ Cohen said, connecting Trump to the hack that U.S. intelligence and prosecutors say was directed by and carried out by Russian military intelligence.
Cohen spent Tuesday before a Senate panel, testifying behind closed doors. He will submit to another private grilling before a Senate committee on Thursday.