Former Trump Attorney Testifies Before Congress
On Wednesday, Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, testified before the House Oversight Committee.
Heading into the testimony, Cohen received backlash from Republican members of the House committee who painted him as a non-credible source of information. In an op-ed published in USA Today earlier this week, Ranking Member of the Committee Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) called Cohen an “admitted liar.” In the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was “laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats aimed to provide Cohen with a viable platform to explain President Trump’s wrongdoings. As the Democrats now hold a majority in the House and with the Special Counsel's investigation seemingly coming to a close, conversations about impeachment are growing. As one Democratic House staffer states, Cohen’s testimony “will further incentivize the Democrats to get to the truth” of whether or not President Trump had colluded with the Russian government in the 2016 presidential election.
Last November, Cohen plead guilty to charges related to lying to Congress about how long discussions on a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow had lasted into the presidential election, along with charges of violating campaign finance laws and bank fraud. Under the order of Federal Judge William Pauley and the Southern District of New York, Cohen is expected to serve 3 years in prison for his crimes.
In a highly anticipated hearing, Cohen provided damaging information about his relationship with the President prior to, during, and after the 2016 presidential campaign. During Cohen’s opening statement, he described President Trump as “a racist, a con-man, and a cheat.” The president’s former attorney then backed up his statements with anecdotes that he had during his years working with the president.
During the testimony, Rep. Jordan engaged in a heated exchange with Cohen, with Rep. Jordan criticizing Cohen for his illegal bank activities and claiming that Cohen’s “remorse is nonexistent.” Cohen fired back, saying, “Shame on you, Mr. Jordan. Shame on you. I took responsibility, and I take responsibility.… I am remorseful, and I am going to prison. I will be away from my wife and family for years, so before you turn around and cast more aspersions, there are people watching you today that know me a whole lot better.”
Perhaps one of the biggest highlights from the public hearing was Cohen’s statements on President Trump’s involvement in silencing adult film actress, Stormy Daniels, during the presidential election. Cohen asserted that Trump had directed him to pay Daniels $130,000 of hush payment. In the testimony, Cohen provided the congressional panel with a photo of a $35,000 written check written by President Trump as a form of reimbursement.
In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, President Trump fired back, saying that it was ultimately up to Cohen “to make the decision” to pay Daniels. He also added, “and he made the decision. And remember this, he is an attorney. Whatever decision he makes, you’re supposed to rely on an attorney to make a decision.”