By Miriam Raftery
View video of Cohen’s complete testimony: https://www.c-span.org/video/?458125-1/michael-cohen-president-trump-he-racist-con-man-cheat
February 28, 2019 (Washington D.C.) – President Donald Trump’s long-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, called his former boss a “liar”, a” conman” and a “racist” during several hours of testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee this week. Cohen testified that Trump knew in advance that Wikileaks planned to release stolen Democratic Committee emails. He also told committee members that Trump directed him to violate the law—and Cohen provided a check signed by Trump after he became president for “hush money” paid to cover up an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.
Republicans grilling Cohen sought to discredit him, since he previously lied to Congress and since his cooperation with federal prosecutors could result in a reduction of his three-year prison sentence. However Cohen also handed over documents to the committee, including extensive financial records that Cohen suggested implicate Trump and Trump’s family members in financial crimes.
Democrats on the committee probed Cohen’s knowledge of other potential witnesses to the alleged criminal activities, also laying the groundwork to subpoena the President’s tax records. Cohen has apologized and voiced remorse for lying and covering up illegal activities on behalf of Trump.
Cohen had tried to postpone his testimony, claiming he had been threatened by Trump and Trump’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said that threatening a witness's family is "textbook mob tactics".
Trump has dismissed Cohen’s testimony as “fake news” from a “convicted liar.” Cohen pled guilty to lying about Trump campaign finance violations, tax and bank fraud involving Trump, and lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 election. Known as Trump’s long-time “fixer,” Cohen worked for the Trump campaign as well as serving as Trump’s personal attorney.
Cohen is reportedly slated to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session on February 12.
Evidence provided by Cohen, if confirmed to be true, could be grounds for impeachment, much as former White House Counsel John Dean’s testimony provided instrumental in bringing about the resignation of President Richard Nixon under threat of impeachment. But it is unclear whether Congress has the political willpower to impeach let alone convict the President, given that Republicans control the Senate and thus far have shown little or no interest in investigating whether the President committed crimes, focusing instead on protecting Trump by trying to cast doubt on any who have testified about alleged illegal actions. That’s a contrast from the Nixon era, when members of his own Republican party called on him to resign or face impeachment for covering up his knowledge of the Watergate break-in at Democratic headquarters and obstructing justice.
Testimony of Cohen and others could also potentially lead to federal and/or state charges in New York against Trump and members of his family including Donald Trump Jr., whom Cohen has said arranged the infamous meeting with Russian operatives at Trump Tower at which illegally-obtained emails were discussed as a means of discrediting Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton.
Cohen has also served as finance director of the Republican National Committee. Millions of dollars in money from Russian oligarchs flowed into the campaign coffers of some influential members of Congress including Senate leader Mitch McConnell, who received $2.5 million from a single Russian oligarch and his companies. Those financial dealings raise questions over the impartiality of key Congressional members who have opposed efforts to investigate Trump'ss ties to Russia and whether Russian interference influenced the outcome of the presidential election.
Find more unfiltered coverage of Cohen's testimony, including questioning by committee members in both parties, at www.c-span.org.