The 8 Most Important Moments Of Michael Cohen’s House Testimony
Today was a historic day. President Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified for hours in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, alleging that he witnessed years of corruption, criminal activity, racism, and depravity from Donald Trump. Cohen reinforced his allegations with documentary evidence including a reimbursement check Trump signed as president. He testified that Trump was aware of incoming Wikileaks drops and that the Southern District of New York (SDNY) is investigating other potential Trump crimes. He provided more details of the Trump Foundation’s self-dealing, claimed that Trump inflated assets to insurance companies and banks, and testified to other financial fraud at the Trump Organization. House Republicans attempted to undermine Michael Cohen’s credibility by pointing out he has admitted to lying to Congress, but they did not address the compelling documentary evidence Cohen presented.
You can examine all the evidence Cohen submitted to the Oversight Committee here, read his opening statement here, read a thread of the key quotes here, or watch the full hearing for yourself here. But, you should probably stick around to read about the top 8 most important moments from the hearing concisely outlined below:
1. More crimes yet to be revealed by the SDNY?
In his opening statement, Michael Cohen finally said on the record that “Individual-1” is President Trump, but that was far from the biggest moment when it comes to the SDNY. During the hearing, one of the more revelatory moments came in response to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi’s (D-IL) question to Michael Cohen. Krishnamoorthi asked, “Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?” To that, Cohen responded: “Yes, and again, those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.” If true, that is highly significant because it would mean the SDNY, who has already implicated Trump in Michael Cohen’s two campaign finance felonies, could again reveal criminal conduct on the part of Donald Trump in the future. With Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and American Media Inc. Chairman and CEO David Pecker cooperating with the SDNY, there’s sure to be more to come.
2. Trump allegedly knew about incoming Wikileaks drops.
During his opening statement, Michael Cohen alleged that on July 18 or July 19 of 2016, Roger Stone told President Trump, over a phone call that Cohen heard on speakerphone, about forthcoming Wikileaks dumps. If true, that means Stone told Trump about the stolen material on the same day Wikileaks told Guccifer 2.0 they had the DNC emails. This fits into a larger puzzle. The key question in the Trump-Russia investigation has been whether or not there was a criminal conspiracy between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign. A component of that would involve coordinating the leaks of hacked material from then-candidate Hillary Clinton. We’ve already learned from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of Trump confidant Roger Stone that he communicated with Trump campaign officials about incoming Wikileaks disclosures. This included outreach on July 22, when a senior Trump Campaign Official was “directed” to contact Roger Stone inquiring about additional leaks from Wikileaks. If true, Cohen’s testimony casts President Trump’s July 27th call for Russia to hack Clinton’s emails in an even more disturbing light. According to Robert Mueller, the hackers got to work that very day.
3. Trump signed check to reimburse Cohen for hush money payments while in office.
Before today’s hearing, we knew that after Michael Cohen made a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels to buy her silence on her alleged affair with Donald Trump. We also knew that Cohen was reimbursed in $35,000 installments. Trump’s legal team has confirmed that. What we didn’t know is that Donald Trump personally signed a reimbursement check for Michael Cohen while he was in the Oval Office in August of 2017. Additionally, Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg signed checks for Cohen in March of 2017. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) summarized it well in his question to Cohen: “Are you telling us, Mr. Cohen, that the president directed transactions in conspiracy with Allen Weisselberg and his son Donald Trump Jr. as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud?” Cohen responded: “Yes.” See the check for yourself:
4. Michael Cohen details the Trump Tower Moscow Project.
Michael Cohen confirmed once again that Donald Trump was involved in the Trump Tower Moscow Project that Felix Sater helped craft. But there were a few new details. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) inquired about a May 2017 meeting in where Cohen was scheduled to meet with Jay Sekulow about his forthcoming House testimony, a meeting that Cohen said the president continued to assert there was no Trump Tower deal or collusion. Cohen also clarified that he took Trump’s various moves as encouragement to lie to Congress about the timeline of the deal, and claimed that Trump’s legal team edited his testimony to Congress. One of the other claims about the project was that Cohen met with Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump approximately 10 times to brief them on the progress of the deal. This contradicts Trump Jr.’s testimony that he was only “peripherally aware” of the project.
5. Michael Cohen details Trump’s alleged frauds.
A series of questions from various Democratic representatives illustrated a clear picture of Donald Trump’s alleged lifetime of corrupt behavior. Cohen laid out examples of Donald Trump self-dealing through his (now shuttered) charitable foundation. A line of questioning from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made the case for subpoenaing Trump’s tax and business records. Cohen testified that Trump inflated his assets to insurance companies and may have committed tax evasion. Cohen also told the Committee that Donald Trump inflated the worth of his assets in an effort to obtain a loan from Deutsche Bank to buy the Buffalo Bills.
6. Republicans defended the president at all costs.
From the moment the hearing began, Republicans attempted to discredit Michael Cohen’s credibility and protect President Trump. They tried various angles of attack but none seemed to penetrate due to the fact the documentary evidence bolstered much of the key components of Cohen’s testimony. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) played the largest role in the effort to protect the president. Cohen’s pointed remark at Republicans on the committee was a huge moment: “I’m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you’re doing now, for ten years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years.”
Cohen to GOP lawmakers: “I did the same thing that you’re doing now. For ten years. I protected Mr. Trump for ten years.” His warning to them: “The more people that follow Mr. Trump — as I did blindly — are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.” pic.twitter.com/vGXvGMXWxC
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 27, 2019
7. A hint at money laundering?
Michael Cohen brought up the 2008 Palm Beach property purchased by Russian Oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev from Donald Trump for $95 million. It was paid at nearly twice its value. This remark garnered no follow up from the committee. Perhaps the House Intelligence Committee will inquire in their closed-door testimony on Thursday. Here is a primer on Trump’s alleged history of money laundering.
8. Cummings’ finale.
At the very end of the hearing, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings didn’t give remarks about how President Trump’s wrongdoing – he made an appeal to Americans’ common decency.
At the end of the #CohenHearing, Elijah Cummings gave an impactful speech:
“As a country, we are so much better than this… When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?”pic.twitter.com/rFqEtxo75W
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) February 27, 2019
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