Explosive Michael Cohen Testimony Released

He calls Trump 'racist,' 'conman'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2019 2:25 AM CST
Explosive Michael Cohen Testimony Released
Michael Cohen, center, President Trump's former lawyer, ignores shouted questions as he departs after testifying before a closed door hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Trump is in Vietnam—and he is not going to have a good morning after he sees the explosive testimony Michael Cohen is going to deliver to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer for more than a decade, describes his former boss as a racist, a conman, and a cheat in prepared remarks released to the New York Times. In his opening statement, Cohen also describes Trump as a "presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails." He says in July 2016, he overheard Stone tell Trump he had heard from Assange that there would soon be a big email dump that would damage Hillary Clinton, and Trump responded: "Wouldn't that be great." Other highlights:

  • Regrets, he has a lot. Cohen says he is deeply ashamed of his "weakness and misplaced loyalty" and of "concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience." "I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is," he says. "He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat."

  • Proof of those illicit acts. The documents Cohen will provide to the House committee include a check Trump allegedly gave him as reimbursement for a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, Politico reports. Cohen says the hush money was part of "a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws."
  • Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about talks over a Trump Tower in Russia, says Trump lied about it, too. "To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it," Cohen says. "He lied about it because he never expected to win the election," and because he expected to make hundreds of millions of dollars from the project, Cohen says.
  • 'The worst version of himself.' Cohen says Trump is an "enigma," but over years working for him, he came to see his true character. "The bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself," he says. "He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal."
  • Trump 'never expected to win.' Trump saw the campaign as a "marketing opportunity" and he never expected to win the primary, let alone the election, Cohen says. He "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.'"

  • Racism. Trump is a racist who has publicly courted white supremacists and bigots, Cohen says—and "in private, he is even worse. While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way," he says. "And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid."
  • Threats to his former schools. While describing ways in which Trump is a "cheat" and a "conman," Cohen says Trump directed him to "threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores." He says he will give the committee copies of a letter sent at Trump's direction threatening legal action if the grades were released.
  • No bone spurs. Cohen says that when Trump put him in charge of dealing with questions over the Vietnam draft deferment he claimed was because of a bone spur, "I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery." "He finished the conversation with the following comment: 'You think I’m stupid, I wasn't going to Vietnam,'" Cohen says.
  • Russia collusion. Cohen says he has no direct evidence that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia, though he certainly has suspicions. He recalls that around the time of Donald Trump Jr.'s infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, he recalled Trump Jr. telling Trump that the "meeting was all set," which struck Cohen as odd because Trump "had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world."
  • An apology. Cohen, who says he hasn't asked for a pardon from Trump and would never accept one, apologizes to the nation for hiding the truth about the president for so long. "But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me," he says. "I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today."
  • Cohen's full opening statement can be seen here.
(More Michael Cohen stories.)

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