Once one of President Trump’s most trusted aides and lawyers, Mr. Cohen is testifying before Congress, painting a dark picture of the president’s character and describing criminal conduct. Republicans are assailing his credibility, noting that he is going to prison in two months for lying to Congress.
Here are the most important highlights so far:
- Mr. Cohen offered a blistering assessment of the president: “He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat.” [Read his opening statement.]
- Mr. Trump did not “directly tell me to lie to Congress,” Mr. Cohen said, but as a presidential candidate Mr. Trump did “lie to the American people” by denying business in Russia.
- Mr. Cohen provided the committee with a copy of a $35,000 personal check from Mr. Trump that Mr. Cohen said was part of reimbursement for hush money payments to cover up an alleged affair with a former pornographic film star.
- Mr. Cohen said he had no evidence of collusion with Russia during the campaign but believes Mr. Trump must have known about a meeting his son had with a Russian lawyer offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
- He also said he was present when Roger Stone called Mr. Trump during the campaign to let him know that stolen Democratic emails damaging to Mrs. Clinton would soon be made public.
Mr. Cohen: ‘He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat.’
Mr. Cohen painted a vivid and damning portrait of Mr. Trump as someone who frequently used racist language, lied about his wealth and committed criminal conduct even after he took office.
At the center of that story was Mr. Trump’s role in a scheme hatched in the run-up to the 2016 election to make $130,000 in hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen said that Mr. Trump initiated the plan, for which Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation.
Mr. Cohen said he received 11 checks reimbursing him for the hush payments while Mr. Trump was president “as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws.”
Mr. Trump ‘lied about’ the Moscow project during the campaign.
Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s chairman, released a memo laying out the hearing’s scope last week. Conspicuously absent: Russia and its election interference campaign.
After consulting with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, lawmakers determined that Mr. Cohen would generally not be allowed to publicly discuss matters related to its continuing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian election manipulation efforts.