Late Tuesday night, the New York Times published Michael Cohen’s opening statement ahead of his testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday. For those who cannot stay glued to the screen for what will be some of the most scathing evidence yet presented in the larger Trump-Russia investigations, the remarks, which can be read in full here, are Cohen’s portrait of the president as a “con man,” and a “cheat.” As Times reporter Maggie Haberman suggests, Cohen’s testimony will probably be astonishing enough that we will “hear calls from POTUS supporters in Congress to adjourn.” Here are some of the more eye-popping comments from Cohen’s statement.
- Cohen provides “a copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account — after he became president — to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign.”
- He attaches a copy of a “$35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank 14 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 installments that was paid throughout the year — while he was President.”
- He also attaches “copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores,” a somewhat petty moment in an overall dead-serious document.
- He claims that “Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails,” a direct connection that both Stone and Assange have denied. “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.’”
- He claims that “there were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me ‘How’s it going in Russia?’ — referring to the Moscow Tower project.” Still, “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.”
- He provides more alleged examples of Trump’s racism. “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.”
- He claims that Trump was aware of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting: “I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk — which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good … let me know.”
- A fantastic dig at Donald Trump Jr., regarding the 2016 Trump Tower meeting: “Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world.”