Cohen to Tell Congress Trump Knew About WikiLeaks Dump in Advance
WASHINGTON -- Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen will tell Congress on Wednesday that he has lied, "but I am not a liar," and has fixed things, "but I am no longer your 'fixer,' Mr. Trump."
According to prepared testimony released late this evening, Cohen plans to tell the House Oversight and Reform Committee in his highly anticipated public hearing that he "never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better -- in fact, he did the opposite."
"I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful," said Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, tax fraud, bank fraud, and previously lying to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and is spending three days on Capitol Hill testifying before reporting for a three-year prison sentence on May 6.
Documents submitted with Cohen's testimony include a copy of a check paid from Trump after becoming president to Cohen as a reimbursement for hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels (Cohen says "lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets"), copies of Trump's financial statements spanning 2011-13 that had been used to inquire about a Deutsche Bank loan to buy Forbes and the Buffalo Bills, and "copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores."
"Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for president, launch a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win," he added. "I regret the day I said 'yes' to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way."
Cohen rattles off reasons for which he is ashamed, concluding with: "I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat."
Cohen charges that, as a presidential candidate, Trump "knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails."
He apologized to lawmakers for previously lying to Congress, saying that "last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump" but "today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump." He said Trump's lawyers "reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it."
"Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates. In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, 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. In his way, he was telling me to lie," continues Cohen's testimony, adding that Trump inquired about the status of the project multiple times during 2016 and that "he lied about it because he never expected to win the election."
Delving into his views on his former employer, Cohen said Trump's "bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself."
"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," Cohen's testimony says. "Donald Trump is a man who 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.' He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity."
"A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes."
Cohen said that in July 2016, days before the Democratic National Convention, he was in Trump's office when Stone called and was put on speakerphone. He said Stone advised Trump that he had spoken with Assange and was assured that "within a couple of days there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign."
"Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of 'wouldn’t that be great,'" Cohen said.
His testimony elaborates on claims that Trump is racist.
"The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries 'shitholes.' In private, he is even worse. He 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 said. "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. And yet I continued to work for him."
"And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming," he continued. "When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it. And yet, I continued to work for him."
Cohen also will publicly give a nod to Trump's current trip in Vietnam -- where the president will likely watch his former fixer's testimony on a 12-hour time difference -- by saying Trump asked him to "handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft."
"Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment," he said. "He finished the conversation with the following comment. 'You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.' I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now."
Cohen said he doesn't have "direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia" but "I have my suspicions." He noted an interaction between Donald Trump Jr. and his father discussing an upcoming meeting "probably in early June 2016" that he now believes "was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representative."
Cohen adds in his testimony that he has "never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump" and said Trump calling him a “'rat' for choosing to tell the truth" is "much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government."
"I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life," he said. "But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today."