After a long period of anticipation, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified publicly on hush money payments and possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Cohen faced questions from US House of Representatives committee in a congressional testimony that is a part of a larger ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to look into ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia.
His opening statement (above) during the appearance on Wednesday, included several revelations about the president. Here are some of them.
- Cohen labeled Trump a “racist,” a “conman,” and a “cheat” and claimed he knew in advance about hacked Democratic National Committee emails that would be released by Wikileaks (at the 13.24 mark in the video above).
- Cohen accused the president of directing him to pay hush money to Stephanie Clifford, an adult film star who goes by the name Stormy Daniels, with whom Trump allegedly had an affair. He even showed a copy of the cheque that Trump signed to reimburse him.
- Cohen said he had suspicions that Donald Trump Jr had told his father in advance about his meeting with Russian lawyers at Trump Tower to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton. President Trump’s team has maintained that while Trump, Jr did attend the meeting, the senior Trump had no knowledge of it.
- In an exchange with Congresswoman Jackie Speir, Cohen said he threatened people hundreds of times for Trump over the years.
- A large part of the hearing was focussed on Cohen’s knowledge about Trump’s financial dealings. He furnished financial statements from 2011 and 2013, presented to Deutsche Bank, which suggested that his former client had inflated his assets when it suited him and vice-versa. (The15.21 mark in the video at the top.)
- When Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other democratic lawmakers questioned Cohen about Trump’s business dealings, he said Trump had also provided inflated assets to an insurance company. Ocasio-Cortez suggested that this could be a probable cause for Congress to ask to see the president’s elusive tax returns.
Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison term in May for crimes including lying to Congress in prior testimony, campaign finance violations, and tax evasion.