- Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer, is set to appear before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday for a blockbuster hearing about his relationship with the president.
- Cohen has pleaded guilty to several crimes including tax evasion, bank fraud, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress.
- During his hearing, Cohen plans to call Trump a “racist,” a “cheat,” and a “con-man” who engaged in criminal conduct while in office.
- Cohen will also tell lawmakers the president knew the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone was in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the election.
- One Justice Department veteran told INSIDER the statements Cohen makes Wednesday can be split into two camps: “prurient interests” that encourage political theater, and “legally significant” material that could prove dangerous for Trump.
President Donald Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, will appear before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday for a highly anticipated hearing about his relationship with Trump.
The hearing, which will be public, will focus on Cohen’s history of working with Trump, Trump’s role in several hush-money payments made to women during the 2016 election, Trump’s character, and some topics related to the ongoing Russia investigation.
According to adraft of his prepared testimonyobtained by several media outlets late Tuesday, Cohen plans to call Trump a “racist,” a “cheat,” and a “con-man” who engaged in criminal conduct while in office. He will also tell lawmakers thatTrump had advance knowledgethat the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks was planning on dumping thousands of stolen Democratic emails — that had been hacked by the Russian government — during the election.
As Cohen prepares to testify, Trump and his allies are embarking on a public campaign accusing Cohen of being a liar whose words cannot be trusted. Last year, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his work on the now defunct Trump Tower Moscow project.
In his statement, Cohen claims Trump did not explicitly order Cohen to lie to Congress,as was previously reportedby BuzzFeed News in January, but that his directive was implied.
“Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress,” Cohen will reportedly say. “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,” Cohen added. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”
Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department, said statements Cohen makes during the hearing can be split into two camps.
“One is the prurient interests: Donald Trump is a liar, he’s a cheat, he’s not worth as much money, he’s made racist statements, and so on,” Cramer told INSIDER. “That’s hardly shocking. It may be embarrassing. It’s public theater. But it’s not relevant with respect to any criminal charges.”
The second camp, Cramer said, consists of “legally significant material.”
“No one thinks Cohen was having an affair with Stormy Daniels, so the [hush money] came from somewhere, for some reason,” he added. “So other than just brandishing [Cohen] as a liar, Trump and his associates have to drill down to the specifics. If Cohen’s got documents — a canceled check, retainer agreements, who knows — then that’s worth looking at. That’s legally significant because it puts the president in the crosshairs as an unindicted co-conspirator, and that’s reasonable grounds for impeachment.”
Cohen plans to submit several documents to the committee, includinga copy of a check Trump wrotefrom his personal bank account — after becoming president — to reimburse Cohen for the hush money payments he made to Daniels during the campaign.
Cramer told INSIDER that Cohen’s submission of documentary evidence may tilt the public-relations war with the White House in his favor.
“There is some validity to attacks against Cohen,” he said. “He’s a convicted liar, that’s true, but he’s Trump’s convicted liar. And if he’s got documents to prove what he’s saying, it doesn’t matter that he’s a proven liar. That’s the beautiful thing about documentary evidence.”
- Read more:
- Michael Cohen will testify that Trump knew Roger Stone was in touch with WikiLeaks during the election
- ‘I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is’: Michael Cohen’s bombshell opening statement before the House Oversight Committee drops hours before he is scheduled to testify
- Here are the 4 documents Michael Cohen says he gave to the House Oversight Committee that could be problematic for Trump
- Michael Cohen details hush-money payments in bombshell opening statement: ‘Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets’