'He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.' Cohen on Trump
Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen told the House committee on Wednesday that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and that Trump is a "racist," a "conman" and a "cheat."
Pictured above is a cheque which Michael Cohen's team provided as evidence in his testimony on the basis that it was part of an illegal hush money scheme.
Cohen also provided the Committee with three years of President Trump’s financial statements, from 2011-2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills (American football team) and to Forbes.
"It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets," Cohen went on, "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."
Cohen also told lawmakers that the president not only lied about his ongoing efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the election but urged Cohen to lie about them without directly saying so.
WikiLeaks and Russia revelations
But it is Cohen's description of a conversation between Trump and longtime adviser Roger Stone days before WikiLeaks released a trove of DNC emails on the eve of the 2016 Democratic National Convention that is the big allegation in the testimony.
"I was in Mr. Trump's office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone," Cohen said. "Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that 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.'"
Last year, special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Trump operation's ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice, indicted a dozen Russians in connection with the DNC hacks. Stone has been indicted by Mueller on charges of obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering.
Later in the hearing, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz asked Cohen whether the President was capable of working with the Russians to help him win an election. "Mr. Trump's desire to win would have him work with anyone," Cohen answered.
"A fake witness"
"The American people have a right to hear him," Chairman Elijah E. Cummings of the house committee said of Cohen just before his testimony.
He was answering criticism from Republican members of the House who challenged Cohen's credibility. Trump's former lawyer admitted lying under oath before to protect the President. "He cannot be trusted," Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said, "but Democrats don't care, they just want to use Mr Cohen." "He is a fake witness," Jordan added later in the hearing.
Cohen's warning for the 2020 election
"Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the presidential election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power," the former lawyer said in his closing statement.
Trump, who is in Vietnam for a nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attacked Cohen after the testimony was leaked.
"Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately)," Trump wrote. "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!"
Cohen is being advised by Lanny Davis, a former lawyer for President Bill Clinton; Trump refers to his defeated 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, as "Crooked Hillary."
America's favourite Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin took to Twitter to react to the hearing with a little humour -- reflecting how embarrassing Cohen's revelations could become for the President.