Ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen blasted his former employer and mentor in testimony Wednesday for an alleged June 2016 conversation with Republican dirty-trickster Roger Stone about the forthcoming release of Democratic emails.
Cohen claims Stone told then-presidential candidate Donald Trump 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.
‘I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,’ he said in a lengthy opening statement. ‘He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.’
Ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen blasted his former employer and mentor in testimony Wednesday for an alleged June 2016 conversation with Republican dirty-trickster Roger Stone (left) about the forthcoming release of Democratic emails from Julian Assange (right) and Wikileaks
Cohen is testifying publicly before a House Committee. The last time he spoke to Congress, he told lies, he now admits. It’s a federal crime, and he’s going to jail for it
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 has insisted repeatedly that he had no direct contact with WikiLeaks.
President Trump, for his part, regularly praised Wikileaks on the campaign trail after the release of Podesta’s hacked emails. ‘I love WikiLeaks!’ he said in October of 2016 at a rally.
At another rally, he mused, ‘This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable … you gotta read it.’
Days before the election on Oct. 31 he called the information ‘a treasure trove.’ As the damning emails kept dropping, he said on Nov. 4, four days before his election, ‘Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.’
U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russian agents stole the materials and used WikiLeaks as a conduit to make them public.
Federal prosecutors have charged Stone, Trump’s longtime informal adviser who’s political monkey-wrenching 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 recounted 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.’
Cohen claimed, ‘Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.” ‘
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.
He says he’s telling the truth now because he realizes that he was wrong to lie for the president.
Under questioning from Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee who was forced to step down in 2016 on the eve of the nominating convention over another email hack, Cohen said he has no knowledge of collusion between Trump and the Russians.
He said that Trump was aware of the email release and cheered it on behind the scenes, as he went on to do publicly.
To his knowledge, he said, the president’s family was not aware of the conversation he had with Stone about the emails. Stone was acting as a ‘free agent’ at the time and was not operating at Trump’s direction.
‘He frequently reached out to Mr. Trump, and Mr. Trump was happy to take his calls. It was, free service,’ Cohen testified.
President Trump, for his part, regularly praised Wikileaks on the campaign trail after the release of Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails. He’s seen here on Tuesday in Vietnam, where he’s traveling abroad
Wasserman Schultz noted that Stone claims he had no direct contact Assange — his account of how he became aware of the email hack and release scheme does not line up with Cohen’s claims.
‘I don’t know, but I suspect that the special counsel’f office and other government agencies have the information that you’re seeking,’ he said.
The email release came right as an Access Hollywood hot mic tape that nearly crated Trump’s candidacy came out.
Wasserman Schultz suggested that Trump had a hand in arranging the email release to coincide with his own, bad headlines.
‘I am unaware of that. I actually was not even in the country at the time of the Billy Bush tape, I was in London, visiting my daughter,’ he said.
Pressing him, Wasserman Schultz said, knowing President Trump operates and his ‘winning at all cost mentality’ is he capable of orchestrating such a slight of hand.
‘It calls on so much speculation ma’am it would be unfair for me,’ Cohen said.
He finally told her, however: ‘Mr. Trump is all about winning. He will do what is necessary.’
She pushed him to say that Trump would be willing to take steps to ‘win the presidency at all costs,’ to which he testified, ‘yes,’ he would.
He could not say whether he did in fact collude with Russia to swing the election his way, saying, ‘I wouldn’t use the word colluding, was there something odd about he back and forth raise with President Putin, yes, but I’m not really sure I can answer that question in terms of collusion.’
He noted that he was ‘not part of the campaign’ and wouldn’t have been privy to conversations Trump had with other employees and operatives.
Still, he said, ‘There are just so many dots that all seem to lead to the same direction.’