Toronto, February 28: US President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified publicly before the US House of Congress’ Oversight Committee. Cohen, who is commonly known as Trump’s former ‘fixer’ was brought in by the Democratic-majority Congress to shed light on a number of issues, from Trump's "debts and payments relating to efforts to influence the 2016 election", Trump's business practices as well as "Public efforts by the President and his attorney to intimidate Mr. Cohen or others not to testify."
Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for multiple crimes that included arranging payments during the 2016 presidential elections to silence women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, said his testimony to the House Committee was him walking on "a path of redemption."
The former Trump lawyer came down heavily against his former boss and called him a "racist", "conman" and "cheat".
Why did Cohen lie to the US Congress?
Cohen extended an apology to Congress for lying in his previous testimony before them, saying he did so to protect President Trump. "The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today I am here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump," he said.
He then went on to say that Donald Trump "knew of and directed" negotiations about the Trump Tower project in Moscow: "So to be clear, Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project."
Cohen added that Trump's team "reviewed and edited" a statement he gave to Congress about the Moscow project: "There were at least a half a dozen times between the Iowa caucus in January of 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me, how's it going in Russia, referring to the Moscow tower project. You need to know that Mr. Trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow tower negotiations before I gave it."
Trump is a “racist”
That Donald Trump has been caught peddling racist statements is not news but there has always been an explanation or deniability. However, Cohen said in no uncertain terms that the 45th President of the United States is a “racist” and “In private, he is even worse.”
Cohen recounted a private conversation he had with Trump: "He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black wasn't that wasn't a shithole. This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States," Cohen testified. "And 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."
Cohen says Trump knew of Hacked Democratic Party Emails
Michael Cohen said that President Trump knew about the release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee before they were released on the internet. Cohen disclosed the interaction he had with Trump which led him to discover that his former boss and his long-time aide Roger Stone were co-ordinating the release of the emails: " Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the Wikileaks drop of emails. In July of 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump's office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. 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." Trump, he said, responded "wouldn't that be great."
Michael Cohen said he has no evidence that links President Trump or his campaign to Russia during the 2016 presidential election. "Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not, and I want to be clear." Then he added, "But I have my suspicions."
Re-imbursement for Hush Money Paid to Stormy Daniels
Cohen brought with him to the hearing one of the checks — which he said was signed by President Trump — was made out to him to reimburse him for "illegal hush money I paid on his behalf." Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels real name Stephanie Cliffords, $130,000 for her silence before the US Presidential elections. Daniels has claimed she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.
He was asked by the Committee Chairman about the checks: "So let me make sure I understand. Donald Trump wrote you a check out of his personal account while he was serving as president of the United States of America to reimburse you for hush money payments to Ms. Clifford. Is that what you are telling the American people today?" Cummings asked. "Yes, Mr. Chairman," Cohen responded.
Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen was remarkable yet repetitive. The public heard from the man who had worked for Trump confirm the stories of which Donald Trump has been accused of such as being a racist and knowing about the hacked emails of the Democratic Party. They also heard from a man who is about to go to jail for crimes he allegedly committed on the US President’s behalf.