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Trump a ‘conman’, knew of WikiLeaks emails, says former lawyer Michael Cohen

President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen claims at a Congressional testimony.

world Updated: Feb 27, 2019 23:41 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
DOnald Trump,President Trump,Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen, the former attorney, for President Donald Trump testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27 2019, in Washington, DC. (AFP)

US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen called him “racist”, a “conman” and a “cheat” at a congressional hearing Wednesday, and alleged his former boss knew in advance of the WikiLeaks dump of hacked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair and the Democratic party, contrary to his claims.

Cohen also spoke at length about lying to Congress about the Trump Tower project in Moscow and alleged the President had lied about it as well during the campaign; presented a copy of a cheque he had received from Trump as reimbursement for hush money payments to women who had claimed to have had affairs with the President; and about the threatening letters he wrote to Trump’s schools and colleges telling them not to release his transcripts (mark-sheets) without his consent.

Deposing at a highly anticipated hearing of the House oversight committee, Cohen set out by expressing remorse for working for Trump and his “misplaced loyalty” to him and he apologized, as he has several times before, for lying to Congress at his previous hearing.

Also read: Mueller’s office refutes news report that Trump asked lawyer to lie to Congress

“The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump,” he said, “Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.”

“He is a racist,” Cohen said of Trump. “He is a conman. And he is a cheat.”

The hearing got off to a predictably contentious start with Republicans on the Democratic-led House oversight committee, which conducted the hearing, citing rules and regulations to ask for a postponement. They were overruled, and focussed on attacking Cohen as a liar and questioning his character during questioning.

In his prepared remarks that were delivered with minor alterations, Cohen went on to allege the President knew in advance of the release of hacked emails of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party through a long-time associate Roger Stone who was in direct touch with the Julian Assange.

Trump has denied he had known of the WikiLeaks releases.

Cohen told lawmakers he lied to them about a Trump Tower project in Moscow in his previous hearing. Negotiations had continued till way late into the presidential campaign, much after Trump had become the Republican nominee for the White House. The President has confirmed that earlier saying that was just business and that he wasn’t sure he would win.

Cohen will start a three-year jail term in May for lying to Congress about and bank and wire fraud and campaign finance law violation, in connection of with the payment of hush money to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. He gave the committee a copy of a cheque signed by President Trump, after moving into the White House, as reimbursement for the payments Cohen had given one of the women.

About alleged contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians, who, the US has alleged interfered in the 2016 election, Cohen was not certain. But he said he believes Trump knew of a meeting his elder son Don Trump Jr took with a Russian lawyer who had promised political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

First Published: Feb 27, 2019 23:39 IST