Donald Trump, is a “conman”, a “racist” and “liar” who knew about the WikiLeaks trove of hacked Clinton campaign emails before they were released and lied about negotiating a real estate project in Russia during his presidential campaign, his former lawyer Michael Cohen has alleged in testimony to Congress.
The explosive opening statement, which Cohen says is “the truth about Mr Trump” was delivered to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday morning.
In it, Cohen also claimed Trump directed him to pay porn actor Stormy Daniels “hush money” from his own account as part of a deal to prevent her from speaking about her alleged affair with Trump, which Trump later reimbursed after he became president.
Here are some of the most dramatic excerpts:
Mr Trump knew from [his long-time advisor] Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of [hacked Democratic] 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 [of Wikileaks] 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”.
I lied to Congress about when Mr Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false – our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign. Mr Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.
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. In his way, he was telling me to lie.
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.
He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did…
Mr Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too – without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.
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 instalments 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.