Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, will make extraordinary claims about a man whom he calls a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat,” according a copy of Cohen’s statement obtained by Roll Call.
The statement also indicates that Cohen plans to bring documents to his hearing before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday that provide, he will claim, “irrefutable” proof that his testimony is “accurate and truthful.”
If the documents materialize, they potentially could have much more impact than critical comments about Trump by Cohen, a now-disbarred lawyer who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.
Those documents include a copy of a check that Cohen alleges Trump wrote from his personal bank account after he became president to reimburse Cohen for the hush money payments he made to pornographic film actress Stephanie Clifford, known by her stage name of Stormy Daniels, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election.
If the payment to Clifford was intended to keep her quiet about her affair with Trump in order to help his chances in the election, and he did not report it as a campaign expense on his disclosure forms — which Cohen and government prosecutors allege is the case — that could be a felony.
Trump launched a pre-emptive strike against his former lawyer from his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, saying Cohen is lying to reduce his prison time.
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
Watch: Trump blasts former fixer Michael Cohen
The president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has said Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment through a retainer fee of $35,000 per month out of his personal family account. If Cohen can in fact provide lawmakers with a copy of the check, that could refute Giuliani’s assertion.
The statement also indicates Cohen can provide financial statements from 2011 through 2013 that Trump gave to Deutsche Bank and other institutions, as well as copies of letters Cohen alleges he wrote at his former client’s direction that threatened Trump’s high school, colleges and the College Board not to release his grades or standardized test scores.
“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is,” Cohen plans to say.
Cohen also asserts in his statement that Trump, as a presidential candidate, knew that his recently indicted campaign adviser, Roger Stone, was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks dump of Democratic National Committee emails — and that Trump knew of and directed the negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow throughout the 2016 campaign and lied about it because he “never expected to win the election.”
Cohen will describe a moment in July 2016 in Trump’s office, where he watched and listened as Trump talked on speaker phone with Stone about a conversation Stone had just had with Assange.
Stone claimed on the call that Assange told him that “within a couple of days” there would be a “massive dump” of emails that would harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump responded positively, Cohen will state.
Cohen will say in his statement that Trump never intended to win even the Republican primary — much less the general election — and that he viewed his entry into the 2016 GOP field as a marketing opportunity to build his brand.
Trump would often tell Cohen and others that his 2016 campaign would be the “greatest infomercial in political history,” according to Cohen’s statement.
The statement not only paints Trump as a morally corrupt political opportunist, but also as someone who holds deep-seated racial prejudices.
Once, while Trump and Cohen were driving through a “struggling neighborhood” in Chicago, Cohen will say, the president opined that only black people could live in such conditions.
Cohen’s statement also alleges that Trump inflated the value of his assets on financial statements he delivered to Forbes in order to rank high on the magazine’s list of the wealthiest people, and that he sent those same financial statements to Deutsche Bank in an inquiry for a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise.
The president once even directed a “straw bidder,” or dummy bidder, at an Art Hamptons auction to purchase a portrait of him to ensure it went for the highest price of any piece at the event, according to Cohen’s prepared remarks. Trump reimbursed the bidder $60,000 through the supposedly charitable Trump Foundation and kept the painting for himself, Cohen said.
Cohen’s assertions are likely to be embraced by Trump’s legion of detractors and dismissed by his many supporters.
Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Oversight panel, has dismissed Cohen as an “admitted liar” whose testimony cannot be trusted.
“When Cohen appears before our Committee, we can only assume that he will continue his pattern of deceit and perjury,” the Ohio lawmaker wrote in a letter to Chairman Elijah E. Cummings last week.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday echoed House Republicans’ dismissal of Cohen.
“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,” Sanders said in a statement.
Cohen was originally scheduled to testify before the Oversight Committee on Feb. 7 but postponed his appearance due to “ongoing threats” against his family.