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By Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON – Michael Cohen, long-time specialist and personal attorney for President Donald Trump, painted a portrayal portrait Wednesday by his former chief of Hill's testimony that Trump approved hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, knew about 2016 WikiLeaks email dump in advance and wished the Congress to receive misleading evidence of its ties to Russia.
Cohen, 52, expressed remorse for his actions and his loyalty to Trump during a courtesy hearing before the House Oversight Committee, which lasted more than seven hours.
Cohen described Trump as a "heady" presence. "It seems incredible that I was so fascinated by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew was completely wrong," he said, and apologized to Congress, his family, and the American people.
"I'm sorry the day I said" yes "to Mr Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way," Cohen said in a 20-page opening statement. "I'm not protecting Mr. Trump anymore."
In his concluding remarks, Cohen referred to the President's headquarters, occasionally looking into the cameras as he ticked off items on a long list of criticisms of Trump's behavior in the office, from his weather-based decision to skip a ceremony honoring veterans his attacks on law enforcement, the media and others.
"You do not use your power for your bully pulpit to destroy the credibility of those who speak against you. You do not separate families or demonize those who look to America for a better life. Based on the god they pray to, and you do not cater to our opponents at the expense of our allies, "he said.
"And finally, don't close the government before Christmas and New Year just to appease your base. This behavior is churlish, denigrating the president's office and it's not American, and you're not."
Cohen is due to report to the prison at the beginning of May for a three-year sentence for a number of charges which he allegedly committed last year, including eight felony counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign financing violations, as well as a bill of making a false statement to the congress. On the eve of his testimony, a New York State Court filing revealed that he had been uninhibited
Democrats, now controlling the committee, asked Cohen questions on Wednesday about Trump's alleged criminal behavior, while Republican members of the committee tried to discredit and delegitimate Coh's testimony, as a lawyer described him as a "pathological liar" because of his previous false statements to Congress. .
Trump is a "racist", a "con man" and "a cheat," Cohen said in his opening statement, claiming that the president not only lied his continued efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the election but also called Cohen to lie about them without saying it directly.
Cohen, who worked for Trump for over a decade, decided why he eventually lied to the Congress in 2017 about the Trump Tower project.
"Mr. Trump knew about and steered the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win. He also lied about it because he was making hundreds of millions of dollars on Moscow's real And then I lied about it, "Cohen said.
"Mr. Trump had made me aware that by his personal statements to me 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 lawyers reviewed my statement before giving it to Congress, "he added.
"He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he was making hundreds of millions of dollars on Moscow property project."
Cohen also suggested that the president has not told the truth why he has not released his tax returns to the public and says he had not done so during his campaign because "a whole group of think tanks" would "tear it down," he had to be forced to pay more taxes or penalties, and the move would lead to an audit. Trump has repeatedly said that he will not release his tax returns because he is already under review.
"I suppose he is not reviewing," Cohen said.
And despite parameters set by Democrats who have troubled the Russian probe's borders, Cohen made use of the opportunity to make new demands which opposed the President's previous statements, including the claim that Trump knew Roger Stone had spoken with Julian Assange in front of WikiLeaks drop of democratic national committees emails.
"I was at Mr. Trump's office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone," Cohen said. "Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr Trump that he had just taken the phone off [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange and Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone, that within a few days would be a massive dump of emails that would hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign. Mr. Trump responded by saying to the effect of "wouldn't it be good." "
However, Cohen said he didn't know there was direct evidence that Trump or his presidential campaign was working with Russia.
"I don't. I want to be ready. But I have my suspicions," he said.
Asked if he knew of any other criminal behavior by Trump who had not been discussed in the hearing on Wednesday, Cohen said: "Yes," but he could not discuss it because of ongoing federal investigations.
The president's former lawyer gave the committee a number of documents, including letters he wrote, threatening Trump's high school, college and college from releasing his grades and SAT scores, according to Cohen's draft opening statement. Cohen also presented a couple of reimbursement checks he received for the $ 130,000 hush payment he made for porn star Stormy Daniel's weeks before the presidential election in 2016 to keep her silent over her claim for a 2006 affair with Trump – an affair Trump doesn't say .
A check in August 2017 for $ 35,000 was signed by Trump, while a check in March 2017 for the same amount was signed by both Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Operating Officer Allen Weisselberg.
Cohen told the panel that Trump had asked him to pay the adult movie star Stormy Daniels "with whom he had an affair and to lie to his wife about it."
"Mr. Trump instructed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to prevent money being traced back to him who could adversely affect his campaign," Cohen said. "And I'm partly in prison because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide the payment from the American people before they voted a few days later."
Asked about the refund of hush money, Cohen said, "He knew about everything, yes. Everything had to go through Mr. Trump and it had to be approved by Mr. Trump."
Cohen's documentation and testimony, said President Elijah Cummings, D-Md., "Traveling serious questions about the legality of President Trump's behavior and the truth of his statements while he was president."
The top Republican in the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, former chairman of Freedom Caucus, said Democrats only use Cohen because they will "try to remove the president from the office because Tom Steyer told them" and he accused Cohen of not being annoyed.
"Shame on you, Mr. Jordan, that's not what I said," said Cohen, adding that he was separated from his family and imprisoned. "I made mistakes, I own them."
Cohen later added: "All I wanted to say is, I find it interesting, Mr. That between you and your colleagues who are not a question so far since I am here has been asked about President Trump."
Trump, Who is in Vietnam for an atomic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Cohen attacked his testimony and tweeting that his former lawyer "did bad things without any connection with Trump."
The House's monitoring committee came one day after Cohen appeared in a closed door consultation before the Senate's intelligence committee. On Thursday, Cohen meets in a closed meeting with the House Intelligence Committee.