July 11, 2020 | News | No Comments
Michael Cohen, in explosive testimony to Congress on Wednesday, produced a $35,000 cheque and said it showed that, while in office, Donald Trump personally reimbursed him for paying off porn star Stormy Daniels in the days before the 2016 election.
The president’s former "fixer" has already pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations over hush payments to Ms Daniels, and it raised the possibility that Mr Trump had taken part in a criminal enterprise while president.
In explosive testimony to Congress, Cohen said: "The president of the United States thus wrote a personal cheque for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws."
The cheque, dated Aug 1, 2017, was "pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea," he said. He received a total of 11 cheques from Mr Trump over a year after making a $130,000 payment to Ms Daniels, Cohen said.
Cohen also claimed Mr Trump knew in advance that Wikileaks was going to release emails hacked from the Democratic Party during the 2016 election.
Cohen further stated that Mr Trump instructed him to lie to Melania Trump about the alleged affair with Ms Daniels.
He said: "Mr Trump 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.
"Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly and she did not deserve that."
He also claimed the president implicitly instructed him to lie to Congress over a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and suggested that Mr Trump had advance knowledge of a controversial meeting between his son, Donald Jr., and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York during the campaign.
Cohen, who once said he would "take a bullet" for Mr Trump went on to deliver a character assassination of his former boss, saying: "I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat."
He called Mr Trump a "liar" who was "fundamentally disloyal," didn’t care about the American people, and had campaigned on a "platform of hate and intolerance".
Cohen added: "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.
Cohen voluntarily agreed to a request to appear before the Democrat-controlled House oversight committee.
The committee is investigating issues including the president’s compliance with campaign finance laws, and his business practices.
The president, tweeting from Vietnam, accused Cohen of "lying in order to reduce his prison time" and Republicans on the House oversight committee furiously accused him of "trashing" the president because he didn’t get a job in the White House.
Cohen told them how he had been in Mr Trump’s office in July 2016 when Roger Stone, a self-described "dirty trickster", called the then Republican presidential nominee.
Mr Trump put the conversation on speakerphone. Mr Stone told Mr Trump he had been speaking with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and that there would be, within days, a release of emails damaging to Hillary Clinton. According to Cohen, Mr Trump replied: "Wouldn’t that be great."
Mr Trump has previously denied knowing in advance about the Wikileaks release.
Cohen said he did not have "specific" evidence that Mr Trump "colluded" with Russia. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is investigating whether there was collusion.
He also detailed how negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow continued well after Mr Trump was the Republican nominee
Mr Trump then implied to him that he should lied to Congress about it, Cohen alleged. "He speaks in code. I know the code," Cohen said.
He said Mr Trump himself publicly lied during the election when he said he had no business interests in Russia.
"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," Cohen said.
Donald Trump Jr, rejected the accusations. He said: "Cohen just wants to be famous. He always wanted his own TV show."
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