The president’s former lawyer will publicly accuse Donald Trump of a crime over three days of Capitol Hill testimony this week – DARREN SAMUELSOHN and MATTHEW CHOI
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, plans to offer up a document to lawmakers that he claims will show the president engaged in criminal conduct related to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, according to a person familiar with his planned congressional testimony.
The person said the document will refute a claim by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, that Cohen used a $35,000 a month retainer from Trump as reimbursement for paying off Daniels. Cohen — who will soon report to prison for a three-year sentence tied to a litany of tax fraud and lying charges — is scheduled to appear Wednesday in a public House hearing, and will also testify privately on Tuesday and Thursday before Senate and House investigators.
During his testimony, Cohen also plans to address a much-discussed BuzzFeed report that the president ordered him to lie to Congress about business dealings in Russia during the campaign. The story initially sparked impeachment speculation, but was later thrown into question when special counsel Robert Mueller’s office took the rare step of issuing a carefully worded denial of certain elements of the piece.
“He’ll explain exactly why he lied and how he came to lie,” said the person familiar with Cohen’s testimony.
More broadly, Cohen will go into personal and character accusations against Trump, saying the president made racist remarks in front of him such as questioning the intelligence of African-Americans, according to the person.
After testifying behind closed doors on Tuesday, Cohen told reporters he’s looking forward to Wednesday’s hearing so he can “tell the American people my story.”
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“At this point in time I really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to clear the record and to tell the truth,” Cohen said. “I’m going to let the American people decide exactly who is telling the truth.”
As word of Cohen’s expected damning accounts leaked out Tuesday morning, the White House and Trump supporters began pushing back against the president’s former lawyer, highlighting his criminal record and deceitful history.
“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that didn’t address Cohen’s specific allegations.
“Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same,” she added. “It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”
On Capitol Hill, Trump’s closest allies echoed the sentiment.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tweeted: “Tomorrow @OversightDems will hold their first big hearing. For their first big witness, they will roll out the red carpet for Michael Cohen. … Here’s the problem: Michael Cohen is going to prison in two months for several crimes, including LYING TO CONGRESS.”
Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Perhaps the most attention on Wednesday will center on Cohen’s account of a payment made to Daniels during the 2016 election to buy her silence about an alleged affair. For the first time publicly, Cohen plans to accuse the president of acting criminally in the matter, a charge Trump has long denied.