Michael Cohen arrives for private testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michael Cohen’s dramatic week of Capitol Hill testimony began Tuesday morning without much drama. The former personal lawyer and “fixer” for Donald Trump testified behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee, answering questions related to the panel’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. He’ll address the same topic Thursday, also in private, in testimony to the House Intelligence Committee.
On Wednesday though, there should be fireworks. That’s when Cohen is set to appear in a public hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. In a statement last week, committee chairman Elijah Cummings laid out the topics the hearing will cover, including Trump’s compliance with campaign-finance and tax laws, his business practices, and the accuracy of his public statements.
Late Tuesday night, the New York Times published a copy of Cohen’s introductory remarks, in which Cohen will call the president a “conman” and a “cheat.” “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,” Cohen intends to say, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by the Times. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”
The Trump administration has already begun pushing back against Cohen. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders unveiled the predictable line of attack against Cohen Tuesday. “Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” she said in a statement. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”
She’s not wrong about Cohen being a liar. Indeed, he’s previously lied to Congress, which is one of the reasons he’ll begin serving a three-year prison sentence on May 6 (the others being financial crimes and campaign-finance violations).
To some, Cohen’s record makes him an unreliable witness. But to others, it makes him someone who realizes the consequences of lying to Congress. And this, based on numerous reports, is what he plans to say:
According to the New York Times, Cohen plans to tell lawmakers that Trump initiated the $130,000 hush payment to Stormy Daniels meant to keep her quiet about the affair she says she had with Trump. While Trump has admitted to knowledge of the payments, he says he didn’t tell Cohen to make them.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cohen will present “evidence of criminal conduct” related to the Daniels payment that occured “since Mr. Trump became president.” It’s unclear if Cohen will address the “catch and kill” deal he orchestrated to keep former Playboy model Karen McDougal quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.
Cohen, the WSJ reports, will also testify that Trump was involved in efforts to conceal the payments from the public in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and will implicate Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg in the effort.
The Washington Post reports that Cohen is also expected to address a BuzzFeed News story alleging that Trump instructed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project. Robert Mueller’s office has disputed the BuzzFeed News story, which initially led some to call for Trump’s impeachment, and Cohen has yet to comment on it publicly. According to the Times, Cohen will provide counter-evidence to BuzzFeed’s reporting, saying, “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.”
According to a copy of the opening remarks obtained by the Times, Cohen will provide a clear picture of the blurry timeline of Roger Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks. “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,” the written statement says. “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.’” Speaking with reporters, Roger Stone has denied such a conversation took place.
Cohen will testify that Trump lies about his wealth when it suits him, the Washington Post reports. “Trump used high numbers for his purposes, such as getting on the top 10 wealthiest people on the Forbes list, and low numbers, when it came time to paying real estate taxes,” a person familiar with Cohen’s expected testimony told the paper.
Cohen also plans to tell lawmakers that Trump made racist comments in front of him, including “questioning the intelligence of African-Americans,” Politico reports.
In the opening statement provided to the Times on Tuesday night, Cohen claims Trump “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.”
Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis hasn’t said much about what to expect from his client, but he has said that Cohen has “worked very hard on this moment to not only tell the truth, but to back it up with documents.”
Among the documents, which will reportedly be made visible to those watching at home, will be financial statements demonstrating that Trump has inflated his net worth.
He’ll also bring a document, Politco reports, to “refute a claim by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, that Cohen used a $35,000-a-month retainer from Trump as reimbursement for paying off Daniels.”
White House aides expect GOP members on the Oversight Committee, led by Ohio’s Jim Jordan, to aggressively go after Cohen’s credibility. The Times reports that Republican members will spend their allotted time “trying to paint him as a liar and accusing him of fabricating stories to help his cause.”
Jordan has said, “Our members intend to question Mr. Cohen about the crimes he pleaded guilty to, other criminal activity he participated in but refused to disclose, his international financial dealings and a long list of other probative activities.”
When Cohen, who once said he’s take a bullet for his boss, appeared in front of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in the fall of 2017, he lied, telling lawmakers that discussion of a potential Trump Tower in Moscow ended in early 2016. He later admitted that those discussions went on into June of that year. Those lies are part of the reason why he’s going to jail for three years.
What’s changed in the last year and half that has led Cohen to go from lying for Trump, to trying to destroy him? Cohen plans to explain.
Everything to Know About Michael Cohen’s House Testimony
Promoted links by Taboola
GOP Congressman Threatens Michael Cohen on Twitter, Then Apologizes
By Matt Stieb
After Matt Gaetz’s tweet about Cohen’s extramarital affairs sparked talk of witness tampering, he deleted it and claimed it wasn’t meant as a threat.
A dangerous escalation in the conflict between two nuclear powers
Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that it shot down two Indian fighter jets that had entered Pakistani airspace, capturing two pilots, in an escalation of hostilities just a day after Indian fighter jets crossed the disputed Kashmir region to launch an airstrike within Pakistan.
India’s government confirmed later Wednesday that one of its MiG-21 fighter jets had been “lost” as it thwarted an attempt by Pakistan’s air force to strike an unspecified target inside India. In the engagement, a Pakistani aircraft was shot down by an Indian fighter jet, New Delhi claimed.
“We have unfortunately lost one MiG-21. The pilot is missing in action. Pakistan has claimed that he is in their custody. We are ascertaining the facts,” Raveesh Kumar said at a news conference in New Delhi, the chief spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
Every Embarrassing Story Michael Cohen Tried to Squash
By Margaret Hartmann and Matt Stieb
We already know about several scandals that Trump’s “fixer” tried to cover up by offering deals, filing lawsuits, and making threats.
Highlights From Michael Cohen’s Opening Statement Ahead of His House Testimony
By Matt Stieb
Cohen claims that the campaign was in direct contact with WikiLeaks, and Trump knew about it.
Early analysis on Cohen’s opening remarks tomorrow:
“The claim here from Cohen is a BFD: Stone *in direct contact w Assange*, waaaaay back right before the FIRST big pre-DNC dump *and* briefing Trump directly.” – Chris Hayes
“Expect to hear calls from POTUS supporters in congress to adjourn.” – Maggie Haberman
“Cohen also contradicts the Buzzfeed story that claimed that Trump directed him to lie to Congress. “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” Cohen will say, per his opening remarks.” – Jeremy Diamond
The New York Times has seen a copy of Cohen’s planned statements tomorrow, which include:
“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,” Mr. Cohen plans to say. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”
He will add: “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.”
“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,” his written remarks say. “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.’”
Trump, with Vietnamese president Nguyen Phu Trong, ahead of summit with Kim Jong-un
Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
After close vote, Methodists will continue to ban gay marriage
Leaders of the United Methodist Church have rejected the One Church Plan, a measure that would have eased restrictions on gay clergy and same-sex marriages, with delegates voting against it at a special session of the church’s General Conference.
On Tuesday afternoon, delegates from around the world voted 438 to 384 to pass what was called the Traditional Plan, which maintains the church’s rules.
The Traditional Plan prevailed, despite impassioned warnings from delegates like the Rev. Tom Berlin of Virginia — who compared it to a virus that would cause a dire sickness in America’s Methodist community.
Jeffrey Warren, a young gay delegate from the Upper New York Conference, told fellow conference attendees on Monday that he evangelizes on his college campus — and that he has success in reaching people for an important reason.
Donald Trump Jr. defends his dad on Tucker Carlson Tonight
Honestly, my take is, you know, I have my father. I know he’s in Vietnam right now trying to negotiate nuclear peace settlements with North Korea. After 60 years of failed attempts trying to end the war, trying to end nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula, you have finally a president who’s willing to do it. Finally, a guy who’s actually got a meeting with the other side.
And for the Democrats to try to counter program that kind of progress, to try to perhaps distract him with this nonsense, by, you know, a convicted felony who’s been lying to those same committees, it just goes to show you how much those Democrats really disdain Trump, but also America.
I mean, who wants to try to stymie that process? Who doesn’t want peace on the Korean peninsula? Who doesn’t want to end nuclear proliferation in a dictatorial state? I mean, who doesn’t want that Tucker?
—Donald Trump Jr.
The president seems to be having fun thus far on his trip
Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth. North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize. The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un. We will know fairly soon – Very Interesting!
Pyongyang’s Contra-like action could throw a wrench in the week’s summit plan
North Korea is using increasingly sophisticated technology to evade sanctions while continuing to raise money by selling arms to Syria, according to a confidential United Nations report obtained by CBS News.
The 67-page draft document was assembled by experts for the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions committee and circulated to members at the end of January. It’s expected to be finalized and possibly made public in early March after President Trump returns from his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, according to a diplomatic source.
A disturbing report of migrants experiencing sexual abuse within U.S. custody
Thousands of allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors (UAC) in the custody of the U.S. government have been reported over the past 4 years, according to Department of Health and Human Services documents given to Axios by Rep. Ted Deutch’s office.
Allegations against staff members reported to the DOJ included everything from rumors of relationships with UACs to showing pornographic videos to minors to forcibly touching minors’ genitals.
From October 2014 to July 2018, the HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement received 4,556 complaints, and the Department of Justice received 1,303 complaints. This includes 178 allegations of sexual abuse by adult staff.
Mitt Romney can add this moment to the 2006 Massachusetts health-care reform to prove he’s been prescient at least twice in his career
At a House intelligence committee hearing, Madeline Albright just formally apologized to Mitt Romney for making fun of him in 2012 when he said Russia was our biggest geopolitical foe. She says the now Utah senator was prescient.
RIP to the pivot to video
Last June, Facebook rolled out its first set of daily and weekly news shows from publishers such as ABC News, CNN, Business Insider and NowThis. Overall, Facebook has launched 21 news shows on Watch including CNN’s “Anderson Cooper Full Circle,” BuzzFeed’s “Profile” and Univision’s “Real America with Jorge Ramos.”
In recent months, Facebook has been telling news publishers that it will only renew about a third of the existing news shows that it has funded for Facebook Watch, according to publishing sources that have met with Facebook.
“They are not abandoning news,” said a source at a news publisher with a show that recently met with Facebook. “It’s not like the [Facebook] Live deals.”
After threatening Michael Cohen on Twitter, Florida congressman and Trump supporter Matt Gaetz ups the vague hype
My short text convo with
Me: Congressman, Any chance you have a few minutes to discuss what you implied with your tweet to Michael Cohen? Perhaps a preview?
Gaetz: Watch tomorrow.
Me: Will do – anything I should be prepared for?
Gaetz: Fireworks https://t.co/g1bwYcjvrg
An unexpected result of the forever war: Boot-camp officers need to teach recruits who were born in 2001 about 9/11
Staff Sgt. Gamblin paced the lecture hall, recounting how hijackers armed with box-cutters took over passenger jets and rammed them into the World Trade Center towers. He described passengers over Pennsylvania rising up to try to retake the plane with the exhortation, “Let’s roll.”
Staff Sgt. Gamblin himself was in sixth grade that day in Marceline, Mo. He painted the recruits a vivid picture of the nation’s horror.
When he asked the recruits to raise their hands if they were born in 2001, half-a-dozen hands rose over shaved heads. When a photo of the bullet-riddled corpse of Osama bin Laden appeared on the screen, he explained: “The mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks is that man right there.”
His eye caught a drowsy recruit nodding off: “Wake up! Right there! Wake up!”
Mark Harris Won’t Contest Special Election, Endorses Election-Fraud Truther
By Sarah Jones
Union County commissioner Stony Rushing has spent weeks defending the Harris campaign from charges of election fraud.
Everything You Need to Know About Michael Cohen’s Blockbuster House Testimony
By Adam K. Raymond
Trump’s former lawyer plans to accuse him of committing crimes and being a lying racist.
Warner gets cryptic after Michael Cohen testimony
Mark Warner, vice chairman of SSCI, said of Cohen: “Two years ago when this investigation started, I said it may be the most important thing I’m involved in in my public life in the Senate. Nothing I heard from today dissuades me from that view.”
He would not comment further
Democratic voters still prefer civility
California Republicans Have a Diverse New Leadership With the Same Old Ideology
By Ed Kilgore
At least the Golden State’s minority party didn’t make things worse with a new hyper-Trumpian chairman.
Somebody has seriously misread John Stuart Mill
Many political reporters share the lady in crowd’s sentiment
Jacob Wohl, one of Twitter’s foremost lunatic trolls, has been banned from the platform
Twitter spokesperson on why Jacob Wohl’s account was suspended: “The account was suspended for multiple violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically creating and operating fake accounts.”
A Trump cheerleader (and Florida congressman) tries to intimidate Michael Cohen right out in the open
WASHINGTON (AP) – Under pointed questioning from senators, the top U.S. general for homeland defense said Tuesday that he sees no military threat coming from the southern border with Mexico, but his focus in on “very real” threats from China and Russia in the north.
Is she the last person in America to not understand this?
Justin Fairfax and the Lies We Tell About Lynchings
By Zak Cheney-Rice
Fairfax compared the sexual-assault allegations he’s facing to a lynching. Little could be further from the truth.