The 8 biggest takeaways from Michael Cohen’s blockbuster testimony against Trump
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and longtime fixer, sent shockwaves through Washington when he testified on Wednesday against his former boss before the House Oversight Committee.
The highly anticipated hearing came as Trump weathers numerous federal and state investigations into his businesses, campaign, charitable foundation, inaugural committee, and administration.
Before he pleaded guilty to several counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, campaign-finance violations, and lying to Congress, Cohen was a member of Trump’s inner circle. He served as the Trump Organization’s lead lawyer for over a decade before leaving in 2017 to be Trump’s personal attorney.
On Wednesday, Cohen told lawmakers that he had lied and misled investigators to protect Trump. But “I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore,” he said. Cohen went on to reveal several shocking details about his interactions with the president that legal experts said could pose a threat to Trump’s presidency, or to those around him, including some of his closest family members.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Cohen’s hearing:
- Cohen said the Southern District of New York is investigating “wrongdoing or illegal acts” involving Trump that have not yet been revealed.
- Cohen said Jay Sekulow and Abbe Lowell — Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s personal lawyers, respectively — made changes to the testimony he submitted to Congress in 2017. The special counsel Robert Mueller’s office determined last year that Cohen gave false testimony and charged him with lying to Congress.
- Cohen said he believed it was possible that Trump coordinated with the Russians to win the 2016 election. “Mr. Trump is all about winning,” Cohen said. “He will do what is necessary in order to win.”
- Cohen said it was possible that the entire Trump family was “conflicted” or “compromised” by a foreign adversary during the election because of their efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the time.
- Cohen said Trump had advance knowledge of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign officials, including his son Donald Trump Jr., and several Russian lobbyists offering dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign. Cohen recalled being in the room with Trump in early June 2016 when Trump Jr. walked in and told his father, “The meeting is all set.” Cohen added that he remembered Trump responding, “OK good … let me know.”
- Cohen said Trump had advance knowledge of the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks’ plan to dump a batch of hacked emails that were damaging to the Clinton campaign days before the Democratic National Convention in 2016.
- Cohen said Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief bookkeeper, witnessed Trump’s direct involvement in an illegal hush-money payment to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) shortly before the election. Cohen said he and Weisselberg were both in Trump’s office when Trump “directed us to go back to Weisselberg’s office and figure this [the $130,000 payment to Daniels] all out.”
- Cohen implicated Weisselberg and Trump Jr. in a criminal conspiracy of “financial fraud.” He declined to comment on whether their actions were under investigation by the SDNY.
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