Donald Trump’s long-time fixer and former personal attorney Michael Cohen alleged his boss knew about the WikiLeaks collection of hacked Clinton emails before they were publicly released and lied about a potential real estate deal in Russia during his presidential campaign.
Cohen’s blockbuster testimony before Congress included claims Trump directed Cohen to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels with his own money, which Trump later reimbursed, and called the president a racist and a conman.
“I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the president and his lawyer — trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel,” Cohen said Wednesday. “Mr. Trump called me a ‘rat’ for choosing to tell the truth — much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.”
The dramatic opening statement from a man who once said he would “take a bullet” for the president portrayed Trump as dishonest, directing Cohen to threaten his former college and schools to prevent the release of his grades, and lying about his assets to reduce his tax payments.
Here are excerpts from some of Cohen’s most dramatic statements during the hearing:
WATCH: Michael Cohen’s full opening statement
WATCH ABOVE: Cohen says Trump knew about imminent release of DNC emails by WikiLeaks
As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails. In July 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.
Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”
Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.
Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery.
He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.
He finished the conversation with the following comment: “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
WATCH ABOVE: Cohen calls Trump a ‘racist’, a ‘conman’ and ‘a cheat’
The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”
In private, he is even worse. He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.” This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States.
While we were once driving through a struggling neighbourhood 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.
Release of SAT scores
WATCH ABOVE: Trump told me to threaten his schools, lie about Vietnam
I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.
As I mentioned, I’m giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission. These are Exhibit 6.
The irony wasn’t lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared, “Let him show his records” after calling President Obama “a terrible student.”
Moscow Tower project
I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false — our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign. Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. 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. In his way, he was telling me to lie.
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.
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 the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.
Mr. Trump is a cheat.
It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon.
The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organisation, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.
And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually revelled in it.
Stormy Daniels payments
WATCH ABOVE: Cohen says he paid hush money to porn stars
He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did.
Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too — without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.
I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account on Aug. 1, 2017 — when he was president of the United States — pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me — the word used by Mr. Trump’s T.V. lawyer — for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check instalments that was paid throughout the year — while he was president.
The president of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws.
WATCH ABOVE: Cohen says he did things he believed Trump wanted him to do
I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests.
I am ashamed to say that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the president, I consider it significant and dangerous.
But in the mix, lying for Mr. Trump was normalized, and no one around him questioned it. In fairness, no one around him today questions it, either.
Never expected to win election
Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation — only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.
Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”
He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign — for him — was always a marketing opportunity.