President Trump is in Vietnam this week, but it's a safe bet he'll be keeping a close eye on Michael Cohen's testimony before Congress. The stakes? It "could be the most damaging for a president since former White House Counsel John Dean helped bring down Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal," writes Chris Megerian in the Los Angeles Times. Cohen is behind closed doors Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but the big day comes Wednesday, when Cohen testifies in a public session before the House Oversight panel. He's back behind closed doors again Thursday with the House Oversight Committee. A look at advance coverage:
- Criminal conduct: Cohen on Wednesday is expected to allege for the first time publicly that Trump engaged in criminal conduct after becoming president, reports the Wall Street Journal. The allegations revolve around hush-money payments Cohen made to Stormy Daniels as Trump's attorney. The payments themselves were made in 2016, but Cohen was reimbursed after the election. Trump also has faced questions about whether he talked about trying to conceal those payments after they were made public in 2018.
- And more: Cohen also plans to accuse Trump of making racist statements and to provide a financial statement to show that Trump has lied about his net worth, sometimes inflating it or devaluing, depending on circumstances, reports the New York Times. In short, Cohen will portray Trump as a "liar, cheater and racist," is how the Washington Post puts it.
- Counter-attack: Expect GOP senators to undercut Cohen's credibility and accuse him of lying about Trump to help his own case. Cohen, after all, is going to jail in May after a guilty plea to multiple felonies, including lying to Congress, notes Bloomberg. Cohen attorney Lanny Davis, though, says Cohen will back up his assertions with documents and will respond to credibility questions by essentially saying: "I take full responsibility, I lied in the past; now you have to decide if I’m telling the truth."
- He's a liar: In a USA Today op-ed, GOP Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadow amplify the point about Cohen being an admitted liar and say he will "surely" lie during testimony. But "many Democrats care about one thing and one thing only: impeaching President Trump."
- On Russia: Cohen will not discuss anything related to Russia during his open testimony. But behind closed doors, lawmakers are expected to grill Cohen on how long into his candidacy Trump pursued plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
- Rep. Cummings: Democrat Elijah Cummings chairs the House oversight panel, and he's casting this week as a potentially big deal. "This is one moment in history," he tells CNN. "And when you get to my age, and you look back and you realize, these moments are very, very, very significant. It may very well be a turning point in our country's history, I don't know."
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