The New York Times has obtained Michael Cohen’s opening statement for his highly-anticipated appearance before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday morning. Michael Cohen says he’s ashamed of his work for Donald Trump, calling him a “racist, con man and a cheat.”
Cohen goes onto say that Donald Trump was absolutely aware that his pal Roger Stone was coordinating with Julian Assange and Wikileaks to release the hacked Democratic National Committee emails to damage Hillary Clinton AND he details an exchange he witnessed and overheard around that Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. The New York Times has published the full opening statement, here are the highlights (or lowlights):
As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about theWikiLeaks drop of emails. 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. 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.”
VIOLATING CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAWS
As Exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account on August 1, 2017 – when he was President of the United States –pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr. Trump’s TV lawyer — for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year – while he was President.The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr.Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District ofNew York.So picture this scene – in February 2017, one month into his presidency.
THE TRUMP TOWER RUSSIA MEETING
Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence thatMr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.
Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.” Something clicked in my mind. I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behindMr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good…let me know.”
What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange betweenDon Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.
I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day — and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, “That’s good…let me know.”
LIES ABOUT THE TRUMP TOWER MOSCOW PROJECT
There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus inJanuary 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me “How’s it going in Russia?” – referring to the Moscow Tower project.
You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.
To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. 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 on the Moscow real estate project.
And so I lied about it, too – because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.
Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.
Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”
In private, he is even worse.
He 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 theUnited States.
While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.
And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.
And yet I continued to work for him.
When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores. As I mentioned, I’m giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission.
MORE LYING ABOUT VIETNAM *AND* DISRESPECTING A WAR HERO
During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be “a hero” because he likes people who weren’t captured.
At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.
Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery.
He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.
He finished the conversation with the following comment. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.
After reading this statement tomorrow, Michael Cohen will be in for a day of questioning from members of the House Oversight Committee. Buckle up.