News, Culture & Society

Michael Cohen to testify he heard Roger Stone tell Trump on SPEAKERPHONE about talk with Assange

Longtime Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen unloads on his former boss in his congressional testimony as a ‘conman’ and a ‘cheat’ – and says he heard Roger Stone tell the candidate about his campaign contact with WikiLeaks.  

That conversation, from June of 2016, involved a discussion of a ‘massive dump’ of emails that Assange said would harm Trump’s rival, Hillary Clinton, Cohen will testify.

U.S. intelligence believes Assange’s WikiLeaks website cutout for Russian intelligence. Stone, Trump’s longtime informal advisor, has been charged with witness tampering and lying to Congress. Cohen is headed to jail for crimes he has admitted to, including lying previously to House investigators. 

‘Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange 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,’ Cohen will testify, Politico reported. 

Michael Cohen said he is looking forward to Wednesday’s public hearing where the American people will get to decide ‘exactly who is telling the truth’

In a statement dripping with contempt for his longtime employer, Cohen will say: ‘Donald Trump 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. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the ‘greatest infomercial in political history,’ Cohen plans to testify. 

‘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 testimony. 

‘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.

He will appear before the House Oversight Committee. 

 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.

There is no way to verify if Don Jr. was discussing another matter. 

Cohen didn’t spare himself from criticism, on the even of a jail sentence.

‘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 will say.

‘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.

Michael Cohen leaves the Senate Intelligence Committee after spending nine hours behind closed doors with lawmakers

Michael Cohen leaves the Senate Intelligence Committee after spending nine hours behind closed doors with lawmakers

Trump has denied any advance knowledge of the hack and has said repeatedly there was ‘no collusion.’ He has accused Cohen of ‘lying’ to get a lighter sentence from prosecutors. 

On the Moscow tower deal, which Cohen admitted he lied about during his initial testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Cohen says Trump ‘directed’ the negotiations and lied about it during the campaign, when he was repeatedly asked if he had any business with Russia.

‘To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project,’ said Cohen.

Cohen also identified Trump as the ‘Individual 1’ in his plea agreement – the term prosecutors use for the person who directed him to pay off the porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump.

Michael Cohen's long-awaited testimony blasts his former employer Donald Trump

Michael Cohen’s long-awaited testimony blasts his former employer Donald Trump

‘Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal court 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,’ Cohen will say. 

Cohen earlier said he is looking forward to Wednesday’s public hearing where the American people will get to hear his story and have the opportunity to decide ‘exactly who is telling the truth.’ 

Cohen briefly addressed the media after he spent nine hours behind closed doors Tuesday answering questions from senators.  

‘First of all I want to thank all of you for sticking around and waiting for me. At this point in time I really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to clear the record, to tell the truth and I look forward to tomorrow to be able in my voice to tell the American people my story and I’m going to let the American people decide exactly who is telling the truth,’ he said.

Cohen will speak in public Wednesday for the first time since he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress when he is grilled by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Tuesday’s private session with senators on intelligence panel kicked off the first of his 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.

He did not answer any questions after his 30 second statement.

‘It’s been a long day,’ said his attorney Lanny Davis.   

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told DailyMail.com that Cohen – who pled guilty to lying to Congress – appeared credible to lawmakers and apologized to them in Tuesday’s closed session. 

‘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. 

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.  

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.