Michael Cohen, center, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, speaks as he departs after testifying before a closed door hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee accompanied by his lawyers, Lanny Davis, left, of Washington, and Michael Monico of Chicago, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Update: Michael Cohen calls Trump ‘racist, ‘conman’ in testimony

President’s former lawyer says he doesn’t direct evidence Trump colluded with Russian government

Shaking off criticism from House Republicans, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer declared under oath Wednesday that Trump knew ahead of time and embraced the news when told that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Michael Cohen also testified that Trump is a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat.”

Cohen, called to testify by Democrats over the objections of Republicans, suggested Trump also implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project, which he says Trump knew about as Cohen was negotiating with Russia during the 2016 election campaign.

The hearing was producing the most damning depiction to date of Trump’s campaign and business operations from a onetime member of his inner circle. It was the latest step in Cohen’s evolution from legal fixer for the president — he once boasted he’d “take a bullet” for Trump — to a foe who has implicated him in federal campaign finance violations.

“I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty, of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him,” Cohen said. “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.”

Democrats asked Cohen about details of his accusations against Trump, while Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee focused on assailing him and his credibility.

Accused at length by one GOP lawmaker of being a pathological liar, Cohen responded, “Sir, are you referring to me or the president?”

READ MORE: Cohen expected to claim lying, racism and cheating by Trump

READ MORE: House blocks Trump national emergency on wall

Cohen’s claims that Trump had advance knowledge of the emails contradict the president’s assertions that he was in the dark, but it was not clear what evidence Cohen had to support the allegation or even how legally problematic it would be for Trump. Special counsel Robert Mueller has not suggested that mere awareness of WikiLeaks’ plans, as Trump confidant Roger Stone is purported to have had, is by itself a crime.

Underscoring the deeply partisan nature of the proceedings, Democrats on the committee lifted an earlier restriction that the hearing not delve into Russia, while Republicans tried unsuccessfully to block the hearing as it got underway, on grounds that Cohen had not provided his opening statement long enough in advance.

The committee’s top Republican, Rep. Jim Jordan, of Ohio, sought early on to undermine Cohen’s credibility by calling him a “fraudster, cheat” and “a convicted felon.”

“Certainly it’s the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness at a hearing,” Jordan said.

Cohen said Trump did not directly tell him to lie, but “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 said that “in his way, he was telling me to lie.” He added that lawyers for Trump had “reviewed and edited” the statement in which Cohen falsely said a proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow had been abandoned in January 2016. Cohen has since said he continued pursuing the project for Trump for months after that.

Trump, at a Vietnam hotel before a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and unable to ignore the drama playing out thousands of miles away, lashed out at Cohen on Twitter, saying his lawyer “did bad things unrelated to Trump” and “is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

A judge already has set Cohen’s sentence, and Cohen’s co-operation will have no bearing on that term. Cohen, ahead of his appearance, said Tuesday that the American people could decide “exactly who is telling the truth” when he testified before the House committee.

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Your weekly Mountain Minute

Golden’s 60-second news recap

An Everest fundraiser

Man set to climb elevation of Mt. Everest in one day to raise school lunch funds

Interior Health study offers take-home drug testing kits to spot fentanyl

Interior Health to evaluate safety of at home drug testing kits aimed at reducing fentanyl overdoses

Golden Fire Rescue training grounds get a facelift

Residents may have noticed some changes at the fire hall in the… Continue reading

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read