Michael Cohen testifies before Congress
Michael Cohen said he has no evidence suggesting President Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
"Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not, and I want to be clear."
Then he added, "But I have my suspicions."
Among the audience for this morning’s hearing is Lynne Patton, a high-ranking political official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Patton is sitting behind Republican committee member Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a conservative who is very close with President Trump.
She tweeted about the hearing and Michael Cohen's allegations:
HUD spokesperson Raffi Williams released this statement: “Lynne is on leave today and is at the hearing in her personal capacity.”
Some background: Patton has a long history with both the Trump family and Michael Cohen. Cohen introduced Patton, a paralegal, to the Trumps. She went on to serve as vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation and even planned Eric’s wedding in 2014. Her appointment in 2017 to head HUD’s New York and New Jersey office was met with criticism, and she has continued to court controversy in office with her outspoken activity on social media.
It’s unclear why Patton, who works out of Manhattan, is on Capitol Hill. Asked for comment about her presence, Meadows told CNN “she has information.” Patton is black, and Cohen testified Wednesday that Trump is a “racist” who has said disparaging things about black people.
In his opening statement, Michael Cohen claimed that President Trump knew about the released of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee before they dropped.
Cohen went on to describe Trump's knowledge of the emails:
Trump, he said, responded "wouldn't that be great."
Watch the moment here:
Michael Cohen said that while President Trump has publicly made racists statements, he is "even worse" when talking behind closed doors.
"Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call foreign countries shitholes," he said. "In private, he is even worse."
Cohen then recounted some of the private statements Trump made to him:
The circumstances of this hearing following Cohen’s cooperation with special counsel Mueller make it extremely difficult for him to lie or dodge questions.
The Special Counsel’s Office made it clear in court that they believe what Cohen told him. They almost certainly have asked him about his interactions with the President regarding Russia and Roger Stone, given their allegations about Stone in court and how thorough they’ve been—and will likely know if his statements today are perjury.
Prosecutor Jeannie Rhee went out of her way to speak about how careful Cohen was since pleading guilty.
She said at his sentencing:
The Special Counsel’s Office said Tuesday it would decline to comment on Cohen’s truthfulness “beyond what was said in court.”
President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen said the President "knew of and directed" negotiations about theTrump Tower project in Moscow:
Cohen added that Trump's team "reviewed and edited" a statement he gave to Congress about the project:
Remember: Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Russia investigation.
Michael Cohen apologized to Congress today for lying in his previous testimony before them, saying he did so to protect President Trump.
"The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today I am here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump," he said.
Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging payments during the 2016 election to silence women who claimed affairs with Trump, said he working on "a path of redemption."
Watch the moment here: