Michael Cohen testifies before House Oversight Committee

National
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Michael Cohen, center, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, speaks as he departs after testifying before a closed door hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee accompanied by his lawyers, Lanny Davis, left, of Washington, and Michael Monico of Chicago, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer is planning to tell a House committee that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and that he is a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat.”

Michael Cohen suggests in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press that Trump also implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project, which he says Trump knew about as Cohen was negotiating with Russia during the election.

Cohen says Trump did not directly tell him to lie, but “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 says that “in his way, he was telling me to lie.” He adds that lawyers for Trump had “reviewed and edited” the statement in which Cohen falsely said a proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow had been abandoned in January 2016. Cohen has since acknowledged he continued pursuing the project for months after that.

In the prepared testimony, Cohen apologizes for his actions. “I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,” he says.

Ahead of his appearance, Cohen said Tuesday that the American people can decide “exactly who is telling the truth” when he testifies Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform committee, setting the stage for an explosive public hearing that threatens to overshadow Trump’s summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

On WikiLeaks, Cohen says in the prepared testimony that he was in Trump’s office in July 2016 when longtime adviser Roger Stone called Trump. Trump put Stone on speakerphone and Stone told him that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that “within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” according to Cohen.

Trump responded by saying “wouldn’t that be great,” Cohen says.

That month, WikiLeaks released thousands of emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee’s server.

“A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time,” Cohen says in the prepared testimony. “The answer is yes.”

Cohen says he does not have direct evidence that Trump colluded with the Russian government during the election, but that he has “suspicions.” Of a meeting in Trump Tower between campaign advisers, including Trump’s oldest son, and a Russian lawyer, Cohen says that Trump had frequently told him that Donald Trump Jr. “had the worst judgment of anyone in the world” and he “would never set up any meeting of any significance alone — and certainly not without checking with his father.”

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