Today’s must-watch TV: Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform at 10 am ET. We’ll bump this to the top of the site when testimony begins.
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An advance copy of 20-pages of Cohen’s statement was released last night. You can read it HERE.
Watch streams above.
Here are some highlights from Cohen’s testimony.
Cohen said that Trump is currently the subject of a criminal investigation after being asked by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) after asking if there is “any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?” Cohen responded, “Yes. And again, those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.”
Cohen said that Trump never expected to win the general election and thought of it as a marketing opportunity. He “ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great.”
Cohen said that Trump boasted about cheating the IRS and showed Cohen a $10 million tax refund, saying the government was “stupid” for giving “someone like him” so much back.
Cohen said that Trump knew about the Wikileaks email dump: “Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange 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.” Added Cohen: “Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’”
Cohen revealed why he flipped on Trump: “There are several factors — Helsinki, Charlottesville, watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another, putting up silly things like this. Really unbecoming of Congress. It’s that sort of behavior that I’m responsible for. I’m responsible for your silliness, because I did the same thing that you’re doing now, for 10 years.”
Cohen said that Trump is a racist and “once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.” Cohen added: “While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) brought out a surprise guest, black HUD official Lynne Patton, to prove that Trump isn’t racist. Said Meadows: “She says that, as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way that she would work for an individual who was racist.”
Cohen’s response: “And neither should I, as the son of a Holocaust survivor….Ask Ms. Patton how many people who are black are executives at the Trump Organization. And the answer is zero.”
Rep. Brenda Lawrence ripped Meadows for the stunt: “I just want to put on the record that being a Black American and having endured public comments of racism from the sitting president as being a black person I can only imagine what’s being said in private. To prop on one member of our entire race of black people and say that nullifies that is totally insulting. In this environment of expecting a president to be inclusive…to look at his administration speaks volumes.”
The moment was brought up near the end of the hearing in an explosive debate about racism:
Cohen said he has “his suspicions” that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia.
Trump indirectly told Cohen to lie about the Trump Tower Moscow project. “He would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” said Cohen. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”
Cohen warned other members of the Trump administration that they could end up in the same place he is. Said Cohen: “I can only warn people, the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did, blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering…I had a wonderful life…I have a beautiful wife, I have two amazing children and I achieved financial success by the age of 39. I didn’t go to work for Mr. Trump because I had to, I went to work for him because I wanted to, and I’ve lost it all.”
Cohen said that Trump is becoming an autocrat: “This destruction of our civility to one another is just…it’s out of control, and when he goes on Twitter and he starts bringing in my in-laws, my parents, my wife, what does he think is going to happen? He’s sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants. This is his country. He’s becoming an autocrat.”
Cohen shot down several rumors. He denied a Steele dossier claim that he had traveled to Prague to meet with representatives from the Kremlin. Said Cohen: “I’ve never been to Prague….I’ve never been to the Czech Republic.”
Cohen said that not to the best of his knowledge Trump did not have a “love child,” a rumor that was the subject of a catch-and-kill story paid for by National Enquirer parent AMI.
Cohen also said that there was no video of Trump striking Melania Trump in an elevator. He said that he had no knowledge of Trump paying for a mistress’ abortion.
Cohen said he was not aware of a rumor that Trump snorted Adderall on the set of The Apprentice.
Several GOP congressman asked Cohen if he expected to someday sign a book deal about his experiences.
Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett called for an investigation over witness intimidation by Rep. Matt Gaetz, who tweeted a threat at Michael Cohen: “I want to apologize for the inappropriate comments and tweets that have been made by other members of this body. And as a former prosecutor and as former counsel on House ethics, I think that the very least there should be a referral to the Ethics Committee of witness intimidation and tampering under 18 U.S. Code § 1512 of my colleague Matt Gaetz and maybe possibly him being referred for criminal prosecution.”
Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) got Cohen to admit that Trump committed insurance and tax fraud.
Here’s Cohen’s entire opening statement:
And clips we assembled as the hearing was unfolding:
Donald Trump scheduled counter-programming during Cohen’s damning testimony.
The HuffPost reports: ‘President Donald Trump scheduled a dinner for Wednesday with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at their summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, but only after House Democrats announced that his former lawyer and “fixer” would publicly testify on Capitol Hill at about the same time. The apparent “counterprogramming” of Michael Cohen’s expected damaging testimony concerns arms control and national security experts, who fear that Trump is trying to distract public attention from Cohen, even at the cost of U.S. interests.’