President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has started his testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee.

Reports have shown that Cohen will show lawmakers documents that include “a check signed by the president as part of his reimbursement for the $130,000 Stormy Daniels payment — Mr. Cohen had paid the porn star from his home-equity line of credit — and financial statements intended to demonstrate how Mr. Trump manipulated his net worth for business and personal purposes, including to reduce his tax liability.”

However, his prepared remarks show he saw no direct evidence of collusion.

Rep. Tlaib Accuses Rep. Meadows for Using Lynne Patton as a Prop

Good Lord. Earlier when Cohen said Trump is a racist, Meadows brought up Lynne Patton, who worked for Trump, because she said she has not heard or seen any racist behavior from Trump.

Rep. Taliab accused Meadows of using her as a prop.

Rep. Kelly Asked About Process to Pay Stormy

From Fox News:

Cohen is asked why he used a complicated process to make the payment to Stormy Daniels.

“The reason I used the home equity line of credit is because I did not want my wife to know about it,” Cohen said.

“Did Mr. Trump know you were going through this process to hide the payment?” Kelly asked.

“Yes,” Cohen replied.

Cohen said the goal was to keep Trump as far away from the payments as possible.

Keith Davidson, Trump and Allen Weisselberg would know about it, Cohen said.

Kelly asked what was the purpose of growing the amount.

“When you live in New York where you have a 50 percent tax bracket then I would be out $60,000,” Cohen said.

He said he would have preferred getting the money in one shot but Weisselberg made the decision that it should be paid over the 11 months to look like a retainer. Cohen said Trump was aware of the payments.

Prague Comes Up

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) asked Cohen if he went to Prague. Cohen said that he has never been to Prague or Czech Republic.

The Christopher Steele dossier claimed that Cohen went to Prague to meet with Russians in 2016.

Revelation on the Southern District of New York Investigation

From WSJ:

Under questioning by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D., Ill.), Michael Cohen testified that his last communication with Mr. Trump or one of his representatives was within two months after the FBI in New York raided his home, office and hotel room in April 2018.

Rep. Krishnamoorthi asked Mr. Cohen what they discussed. Mr. Cohen said he was unable to answer because it’s a topic under investigation by the Southern District of New York. “I’ve been asked by them not to discuss and talk about these issues,” Mr. Cohen said.

We’re not sure what this means exactly, but it’s certainly an interesting revelation. We know that the Southern District’s investigation into Trump Organization is continuing, and Mr. Cohen testified earlier in the hearing that he is still in constant contact with the Southern District about ongoing investigations.

“Catch & kill” With National Enquirer

From The Wall Street Journal:

Michael Cohen brought up “catch and kill scenarios” he carried out for Donald Trump. “Catch and kill” is the practice in the tabloid world of paying for a story, but not publishing it.

Mr. Cohen testified that David Pecker, the chief executive of the National Enquirer’s publisher, has had a long history of doing catch-and-kills for Mr. Trump. Mr. Pecker and Mr. Trump are longtime friends, with a relationship dating back to the 1990s when Mr. Pecker’s former employer put out a quarterly magazine for guests at Trump properties.

Mr. Pecker’s company, American Media LLC, made one of the hush-money payments before the 2016 election on behalf of the Trump campaign. Mr. Pecker told prosecutors about Mr. Trump’s involvement in the payment scheme and received immunity for testifying before a grand jury, the Journal has previously reported .

American Media wasn’t criminally charged for making the payment. The company cooperated with prosecutors and received a non-prosecution agreement instead.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asked Cohen if Pecker did this for others and Cohen said yes.

Rep. Connolly Asks About Meeting With Trump Before House Intel Committee Testimony

Connolly wanted to know what Trump told Cohen when they met before his House Intel Committee testimony. Cohen confirmed that Trump only told him to cooperate. Of course, he tried to make Trump look guilty by insisting that he “knew exactly what he wanted me to say.”

Cohen Won’t Rule Out Book, Movie Deals

Rep. Virginia Foxx asked Cohen if he would rule out movie or book deals:

As the hearing resumed, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), pressed Mr. Cohen to promise under oath not to make money based on his experiences with Donald Trump through a book or a movie deal. Mr. Cohen declined her invitation.

She also asked him if he would promise not to run for political office, as he has previously done unsuccessfully in New York, or work as a television commentator.

“I will not do that, no,” answered Mr. Cohen, who has said he’s been approached about movie and television projects.

“So you don’t commit to changing your ways, basically, because you want to continue to use your background as a liar, a cheater, a convicted liar, to make money?” Ms. Foxx asked.

“And that’s going to get me a book deal and a movie deal and a spot on television?” Mr. Cohen said. “I don’t think so.”

Cohen Admits He Spoke to Democrats Before the Hearing

Cohen told Rep. Hice that he did speak to Rep. Cummings and Rep. Schiff before the hearing.

Trump Didn’t Think He’d Win So Why Collude?

The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti Skyles has an excellent point:

Exactly. If he didn’t think he would win the primary or general or even wanted to, why would he collude with Russia?

Jordan Questions Cohen’s Credibility

Rep. Jordan got Cohen to admit that he wanted to work in the White House:

“Here’s what I see. I see a guy who worked for 10 years and is here trashing the guy he worked for for 10 years, didn’t get a job in the White House, and now, now you’re behaving just like everyone else who got fired or didn’t get the job they wanted like Andy McCabe, like James Comey, same kind of selfish motivation after you don’t get the thing you want. That’s what I see here today and I think that’s what the American people see.”

He also reminded the committee that Cohen has lied consistently in the past and had his own financial problems, similar to those that he has said Trump has done.

Cohen Suggests Trump Family Compromised During Election

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz asked Cohen if the Trump family was “conflicted or compromised with a foreign adversary in the months before the election.” From CNN:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Florida, asked if the President’s son, daughter and son-in-law were involved in the Trump Tower Moscow project.

“Was Ivanka, Jared or Don Jr. still involved in the Russian tower deal at that time?” she asked.

“The company was involved in the deal, which meant that the family was involved in the deal,” Cohen said.

Wasserman Schultz followed up: “If Mr. Trump and his daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr. are involved in the Russian Trump tower deal, is it possible the whole family is conflicted or compromised with a foreign adversary in the months before the election?”

“Yes,” Cohen said.

Michael Cohen Opening Statement

CNBC has Cohen’s opening remarks. Here is a snippet:

Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for President, launch a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said “yes” to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.

I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.

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.

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.

He is a racist.

He is a conman.

He is a cheat.

He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.

Jim Jordan Wanted to Delay Hearing

From The Wall Street Journal:

Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), took his turn at the microphone for an opening statement in which he castigated Democrats on the committee for bringing Mr. Cohen in to testify.

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

He accused the Democrats of encouraging Mr. Cohen to violate attorney-client privilege and complained that they can’t ask questions about ongoing investigations. “The only things we can talk about are things you think are going to be harmful to the president of the United States,” Mr. Jordan said.

“They just want to use you Mr. Cohen, you’re their patsy today.”

Mr. Cohen has been sworn in and has begun his remarks.

Cummings Opening Statement

From The Wall Street Journal:

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) in his opening statement acknowledged that Michael Cohen’s past lies and guilty pleas create credibility problems. But in light of his “deeply disturbing” allegations about President Trump relating to WikiLeaks and the hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, Mr. Cummings said, Americans “can make their own judgments.” He cited the documents “and other corroborating evidence” Mr. Cohen has supplied to the committee.

“The president made many statements of his own, and now the American people have a right to hear the other side,” he said.

 

 
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