It will be the first of three much-awaited appearances on Capitol Hill this week – only one of them public – for Michael Cohen.
FILE: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, exits federal court, 21 August 2018 in New York City. Picture: AFP
WASHINGTON, United States – Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and problem fixer, arrived in Congress on Tuesday for a closed-door hearing in which he was expected to detail his ex-boss’s alleged law-breaking and questionable business practices.It will be the first of three much-awaited appearances on Capitol Hill this week – only one of them public – for Cohen, who has already been convicted for illegally arranging hush payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.An unnamed source close to Cohen told the Wall Street Journal that Cohen was prepared to discuss Trump’s “lies, racism and cheating” as well as “evidence of criminal conduct since Mr Trump became president,” but gave no specifics to the newspaper.Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis told ABC News last week that his client would detail “personal, front-line experiences” of incidents and conduct by Trump that even hardened listeners would find “chilling.”The three hearings this week – a closed session at the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday; an open, televised hearing at the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday; and another closed hearing at the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday – could stir new troubles for Trump.The White House is already unsettled in anticipation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller might soon conclude his almost two-year-old investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election.The Senate Intelligence Committee hearing opened on Tuesday just as Trump arrived in Hanoi for his second showcase summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.Cohen’s open testimony on Wednesday could well overshadow the first day of talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons between Trump and Kim.From Hanoi, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders dismissed Cohen’s credibility.”Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements. Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same,” Sanders said, adding: “It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word.”FOCUS ON TRUMP HUSH PAYMENTSCohen’s testimony comes ahead of his incarceration on a three-year prison sentence handed down in December after he pleaded guilty to bank fraud, tax evasion and campaign finance violations, and lying in earlier testimony to the Senate panel.In a key aspect of his case – the illegal use of campaign funds for hush payments ahead of the 2016 election – Cohen told prosecutors that he was ordered to do so by Trump himself, directly implicating the president in a crime.Trump blamed Cohen for mishandling the payments. But Cohen, who was uniquely situated as a former vice president of Trump’s real estate and entertainment group, and could provide more details of Trump’s involvement in testimony this week.Cohen could also implicate the White House in the false testimony he gave to the House and Senate intelligence committees in 2017 on negotiations for building a Trump tower in Moscow that continued throughout the 2016 election.”We think he has a lot to offer,” Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.”Who would have been aware of the false testimony that he was giving? What other light can he shed now that he’s cooperating on issues of obstruction of justice or collusion?” the lawmaker asked.