Carried live across American TV networks and radio stations, the dramatic hearings were marked by fierce cross examination from Republican lawmakers seeking to destroy Mr Cohen’s credibility and question his motives for testifying.
Mr Cohen, who acted as a top “fixer” for Mr Trump across a decade, is due to go to prison in May after pleading guilty to nine felonies, including lying to Congress at a previous closed door sessions.
“You have a history of lying over and over and over again,” said Jim Jordan, the committee’s top Republican, suggesting Mr Cohen was seeking revenge because he was denied a White House job after the election.
Other Republicans suggested Mr Cohen’s appearance was to solicit book and Hollywood movie deals.
Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)February 27, 2019
Frequently questions from lawmakers veered near issues that are subject to other investigations, including by special prosecutor Robert Mueller and in the Justice Department’s Southern District of New York.
Mr Cohen said he was asked by the latter to not discuss his final conversation with Mr Trump last year because its part of an ongoing investigation.
He was also asked whether he was aware of “any wrongdoing or illegal act” concerning the president that had not been acknowledged during Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday.
“Yes,” Mr Cohen responded, “and again those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.”
Amid a flurry of accusations raised by Mr Cohen, he conspicuously failed to present anything suggesting he had evidence that Mr Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia.
“I wouldn’t use the word colluding,” Mr Cohen said said. But there was “something odd” about the president’s good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There are just so many dots that seem to lead in the same direction,” he said.
Once a fierce attack dog for Mr Trump who famously said he would “take a bullet” for the president, Mr Cohen’s testimony sought to display deep remorse.
He said he was “ashamed” for his work “because I know what Mr Trump is”.
“He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”
“He is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great,” Mr Cohen added.
“He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.”
Mr Cohen released documents supporting his claims the president ordered him to pay $US130,000 ($182,000) to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up a sexual relationship in violation of campaign finance rules.
Mr Cohen said he also lied about the relationship to first lady Melania Trump.
He said Mr Trump knew in advance about a WikiLeaks dump of stolen emails from senior Democrats, and that that he pursued plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow deep into the 2016 campaign.
Mr Cohen said he was in Trump’s office in July 2016 whenRoger Stone, a self-described “dirty trickster” and longtime political adviser to Mr Trump, called the then Republican presidential candidate.
He said Mr Stone told Mr Trump he had been speaking with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who told him there would be a dump of emails within a couple of days that would damage Clinton’s campaign.
The White House has not yet responded to Wednesday’s testimony by Mr Cohen, but the president has repeatedly called his former lawyer as a “rat”.