This week former personal lawyer and longtime “fixer” to President Trump Michael Cohen appeared in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The highly-anticipated testimony provided both corroborating evidence of existing allegations and new bombshell revelations of criminal wrongdoing by Donald Trump, both as a candidate and as president.
In his opening statement, Cohen recounted how in 2016, he and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg helped Trump pay off multiple women who alleged they had affairs with him to prevent them from going public with their stories prior to the election. Cohen also entered into the record one of the several checks that Trump used to reimburse him for funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money to the women in violation of federal campaign finance law.
Additionally, Cohen claimed that Trump not only knew in advance about the Wikileaks dump of emails hacked from the Clinton campaign and the DNC, but that he enthusiastically welcomed it, stating to the effect “that’d be great” as he spoke with Roger Stone on speakerphone. Cohen alleges he was in the room with then-candidate Trump when that conversation occurred. Cohen also suggested that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and the Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Cohen also shared more information on Trump’s lies about his pursuit of a luxury real estate deal in Moscow while running for president. During the campaign, Trump repeatedly claimed that he had “no business dealings” with Russia. Cohen stated that Trump was not only pursuing the project in Moscow, he was working with his kids to try and solidify the deal while he ran for president.
It was incredibly damning testimony for the president on many fronts, but rather than refute Cohen’s claims on the merits Republican members of the panel spent much of their allotted time on what Michael Cohen might have to gain from the ordeal. For Republicans, Cohen’s prospect of an eventual book deal completely overshadowed the substance and evidence behind his allegations, not to mention the enormous risk he runs by being anything but truthful with lawmakers at this point. Cohen will report to prison for a three-year sentence starting in May, having pleaded guilty to various crimes, some of which were committed at the request of Trump.