Six crucial accusations against Trump in Michael Cohen’s testimony

“He had no desire or intention to lead this nation—only to market himself.”
“He had no desire or intention to lead this nation—only to market himself.”
Image: Jonathan Ernst
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Michael Cohen’s written testimony to the US House Oversight Committee paints a devastating picture of Donald Trump as a “racist,” “a conman,” and “a cheat,” whose pursuit of personal wealth, disregard for the law, and lack of personal morality make him unfit for the White House.

Here is a look at some of the most damning statements Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer who has admitted lying to Congress about Trump’s pursuit of a Moscow Trump Tower while running for president, offered to the committee. (Here’s how you can watch the hearing, which is to begin at 10am US Eastern time, on TV and online.)

1. Trump saw his candidacy as an informercial

Seeking the presidency, a job that has great impact on the lives of nearly 330 million Americans and many more people around the world, was little more than an opportunity to market and advertise the Trump brand, Cohen says. Trump never thought he’d win the 2016 election, he adds, or had any aspirations to really serve in office:

He had no desire or intention to lead this nation—only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”

He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity.

2. Roger Stone told Trump about the Wikileaks email dump before it happened

The emails hacked from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman dominated headlines in the months before the 2016 election, raising questions about the content of her speeches to Wall Street executives:

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.”

3. Trump reimbursed hush money to Cohen 11 times while president

Cohen’s submission to the House committee includes this copy of a $35,000 check that Trump personally signed to “reimburse me …for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf.”

Cohen says:

So picture this scene–in February 2017, one month into his presidency, I’m visiting President Trump in the Oval Office for the first time. It’s truly awe-inspiring, he’s showing me around and pointing to different paintings, and he says to me something to the effect of…Don’t worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming. They were FedExed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.

Cohen’s three-year prison sentence is based in part on his breaking campaign-finance laws and his testimony alleges Trump did the same.

4. Trump’s racist remarks in private are “even worse” than the ones that Trump has made in public

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 the United 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.

5. Trump made Cohen lie to his wife about his affair

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. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly – and she did not deserve that.

Melania Trump’s office had no immediate comment.

6. Trump’s lawyers vetted Cohen’s earlier lies to Congress

Cohen told Congress earlier that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016, before Trump won the Republican presidential nomination.  “That was false,” Cohen says—negotiations continued for months later. 

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.