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Cohen: 'I Am Not Protecting Mr. Trump Anymore'

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Cohen: 'I Am Not Protecting Mr. Trump Anymore'

Months before he reports to prison, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and “fixer” told members of Congress Wednesday that the president personally reimbursed him for hush money to cover up an affair and that Trump was tipped ahead of a dump of WikiLeaks documents stolen from Democrats.

Michael Cohen also painted an unflattering picture of the man he represented for a decade, calling Trump a "racist, a conman and a cheat," and said that during his time serving Trump after he became president, he was increasingly alarmed at the decline of civility in American political culture — which he laid directly at Trump's feet.

Cohen’s dramatic and contentious appearance before the House Oversight Committee, which is scheduled to resume at 4 p.m. Wednesday, angered Republicans on the panel. Cohen is facing prison time for lying to Congress, and Republicans argued it made no sense to invite a man convicted of lying to lawmakers to testify in front of them again. 

As to why they should believe Cohen now, the witness said the answer was simple: the first time he talked to Congress, he said he was doing his job and trying to protect Trump.

“I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore."

GOP Reps Push Back 

Republicans, now in the minority in the House, dismissed the hearing as political theater by Democrats hoping to discredit, investigate and possibly try to unseat the president.

Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins called the testimony a “cornerstone for some future attempt at impeachment proceedings.”

“This might be the first time someone convicted of lying to Congress has appeared so quickly again in front of Congress,” said the committee’s ranking GOP member, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland turned that around and said Republicans do not want Cohen's accusations made public. 

"Our colleagues are not upset because you lied to Congress," Raskin said. "They’re upset because you’ve stopped lying to Congress."

New Revelations 

Cohen also said during questioning that Trump’s new lawyer was involved in the false testimony Cohen previously gave to Congress. That lawyer, Jay Sekulow, “reviewed and edited” his statement about the timing of Trump’s business dealings in Russia, specifically a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, Cohen testified. The discussions over the Moscow project are at the center of Cohen’s problems; he has admitted he lied about the project when he earlier told Congress that discussions ended in January 2016, when they actually continued into 2016.

Cohen also testified that Trump heard from longtime political operative Roger Stone that WikiLeaks was about to release documents stolen from Democrats during the 2016 election, though Republicans pointed out that by then it should have been known anyway — because WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said a month earlier that he was planning to release documents that would harm Hillary Clinton’s chances.

Other Highlights From Cohen's Appearance

◘ From Cohen’s opening statement: “I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”

Republicans alleged Cohen turned on Trump because he wasn’t hired for a White House job. Cohen vigorously denied that, saying he actually did get the job he wanted, as personal lawyer to the president, and that he could actually do more for Trump in that position than if he’d been hired to work in government.

◘ Cohen was contrite and said several times that he made numerous mistakes, acknowledging that he committed crimes and noting that he'll pay the price by going to prison. He said he was intoxicated by working for the charismatic Trump, and ambitious. Among his regrets: Cohen said he kickstarted the whole idea of Trump running for president, suggesting it to him in 2011. He never thought Trump would actually win — and, he said, neither did Trump.

◘ Cohen, who originally got to know Trump as a tenant in one of his buildings, said he’s worried about his family’s safety because he has turned on Trump. Cohen said he's not afraid of something the president might directly do, but what misguided followers might do, noting Trump’s huge Twitter following.

“It’s not just him, it’s those people who follow him,” Cohen said. “I don’t walk with my wife, I don’t walk with my children, I make them go before me.”

◘ Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison after pleading guilty to several crimes, including tax evasion that Cohen said was not related to his work for Trump. He was also convicted of a campaign finance violation for arranging the hush payments from the Trump campaign.

Related Links: 

3 Companies Tied Up With Cohen's Shell Company — And What They Need From Trump 

FBI Raids Office Of Michael Cohen, Trump's Personal Lawyer

Screenshot courtesy of The Washington Post

Posted-In: Michael Cohen President Donald TrumpPolitics General Best of Benzinga

 

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