Michael Cohen testifies before Congress

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 6:55 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019
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1:31 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

This is what WikiLeaks is saying about the Cohen testimony

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Wikileaks tweeted that its publisher Julian Assange never has a phone call with longtime Trump associate Roger Stone, according to a statement it released during Michael Cohen's testimony.

In the statement, Wikileaks said on March 16, 2016, it "launched a searchable archive for over 30 thousand emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton's private email server while she was Secretary of State."

What Cohen said: In his testimony, Cohen said Trump had knowledge of Stone's efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks ahead of the release of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

Earlier this year, Stone was indicted by a grand jury on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who alleges that the longtime Trump associate sought stolen emails from WikiLeaks that could damage Trump's opponents while in coordination with senior Trump campaign officials.

Some very important context: The March 16, 2016, release was not the infamous election stuff. It was a searchable archive of emails from Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state. They had already been made public after a FOIA lawsuit.

However: It’s true that Assange previewed upcoming election-related leaks before the supposed phone call with Roger Stone. (In other words, it’s entirely possible that Stone just saw this one in the news and was bluffing when he spoke to Trump.)

1:24 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

Here's why Cohen is still cooperating with prosecutors

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz 

Michael Cohen has testified that he’s cooperating with prosecutors still in the hopes they’ll ask a federal judge to reduce the sentence he’s already received.

Why? He's seeking a Rule 35 motion.

The Rule 35 motion is the post-sentencing equivalent of the “5K” letter of cooperation that was sought after by many of special counsel Robert Mueller's defendants who pleaded guilty before they were sentenced. Among the Mueller defendants, only Michael Flynn received a "5K" letter. Even Richard Pinedo, who helped investigators understand how the alleged Russian troll farm bought fake identities online and helped prosecutors identify the individuals they charged, didn’t get a "5K" letter from Mueller’s team.

Simply helping corroborate information to investigators isn’t typically enough to get a formal sentencing reduction letter. The cooperators have to provide “substantial assistance” to get a letter like this. “Substantial assistance” has a high legal threshold, which prosecutors have interpreted to mean the cooperator led them to another defendant or crime.

1:38 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

Congressman discusses email revealing May 2017 meeting Trump sought with Cohen and Sekulow

From CNN's David Shortell

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly said committee staff uncovered an email the White House had mistakenly released to lawmakers that revealed a meeting President Trump had requested in May of 2017 with Michael Cohen and Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s legal team.

Cohen could not remember the meeting "off the top" of his head, but said, “I recall being in the White House with Jay Sekulow and it was in regard to the document production as well as my appearance before the House Select Intel but I’m not sure if that specifically is what you’re referring.”

Cohen said in that trip to the White House he had a conversation with Trump about his impending testimony.

“He wanted me to cooperate, he also wanted just to ensure I’m making the statement, and I said it in my testimony, ‘There is no Russia, there is no collusion, there is no deal,’ he goes, ‘It’s all a witch hunt,’ he goes, ‘This stuff has to end.’”

“At the end of the day I knew exactly what he wanted me to say,” Cohen said.

He said he would check his documents and get a more fulsome answer for Connolly. 

Cohen said he thought Sekulow was in the meeting as a hand-off, “because he was going to be representing Mr. Trump going forward as one of his personal attorneys in this matter.”

Asked by Connolly if he was “coached” by the President on how he should testify before the Intelligence Committee, Cohen said “it’s difficult to answer” and repeated his previous testimony about the way Trump had back-handedly discussed Russia with him.

“He doesn’t tell you what he wants. What he does is again, ‘Michael, there’s no Russia, there’s no collusion, there’s no involvement, there’s no interference.’ I know what he means because I’ve been around him for so long. So if you’re asking me whether or not that’s the message, that’s staying on point, that’s the party line that he created that so many others are now touting, yes, that’s the message that he wanted to reinforce.”

Watch the exchange:

1:06 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

GOP senator says Cohen’s testimony helps Trump’s case on collusion

From CNN's Sunlen Serfaty and Liz Turrell

Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Zach Gibson/Getty Images


GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believes Michael Cohen's testimony helped President Trump's insistence that his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election.    

"If you had to prove collusion using Mr. Cohen, it was a good day for the Trump team. It is clear to me that Mr. Cohen has had a change of heart about Trump. But the central issue has always been did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians. And Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s exchange with Mr. Cohen was pretty devastating to the idea that Trump colluded. Cohen said no — I don’t know ... The point is I think on the collusion question Michael Cohen was very helpful to the Trump narrative that there is no evidence of collusion.”

What this is all about: Earlier today, Cohen said he has no proof that Trump colluded with Russia, but added that he has "suspicions."

"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." he said. "But I have my suspicions."

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. John Kennedy told CNN that he had a hard time believing anything Cohen said during his testimony. (Cohen testified behind closed doors to a Senate panel yesterday.)

Kennedy suggested that perhaps Cohen was “unstable” and said that he “wouldn’t cash his check” when it came to Cohen’s creditability.

1:44 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

Stormy Daniels tweets: "Thank you"

As Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee, Stormy Daniels tweeted two words:

Why we're talking about Daniels: Stephanie Clifford, better known as porn actress Stormy Daniels, alleges she had an affair with President Trump in 2006.

Cohen, Trump's former attorney and personal fixer, paid Daniels $130,000 to prevent her from speaking publicly about her alleged affair with Trump.

She is also suing Cohen and Trump over the payment.

1:00 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

The last time Cohen spoke to Trump was two months after FBI raid, he says

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The last time Michael Cohen spoke to President Trump was about two months after the FBI raided his office and hotel room, the former Trump fixer told lawmakers.

Cohen couldn't provide a specific date, and said he couldn't give details about the conversation because it was under investigation.

"Unfortunately, this topic is something that's being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York, and I've been asked by them not to discuss and not to talk about these issues," he said.
12:49 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

Cohen refuses to promise he won't sign a book, TV or movie deal

From CNN's David Wright

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In a tense exchange with North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, Michael Cohen said he will not commit to not pursuing possible book, TV and movie deals in the future.

Here's how it unfolded:

Foxx: Can you commit under oath that you have not and will not pursue a book or movie deal based on your experiences working for the President?

Cohen: No --

Foxx: You cannot commit to making money off of a book or movie deal based on your work?

Cohen: No. What I -- there’s two parts to your question. The first part of your question, you asked me whether or not I had spoken to people regarding a possible book deal, and I have. And I have spoken to people who sought me out regarding a movie deal. 

Foxx: No, I didn’t ask you if you’ve spoken to anybody. I said can you commit under oath that you will not -- that you have not and will not pursue a book deal?

Cohen: And I will not do that, no.

Foxx: Can you commit under oath that you will not pursue opportunities to provide commentary for a major news network based on your experiences working for the president?

Cohen: No.

Foxx: Can you commit under oath that you will not pursue political office in the state of New York?

Cohen: No.

Foxx: So you don’t commit to changing your ways, basically, because you want to continue to use your background as a liar, a cheater, a convicted liar, to make money. That’s what you want to do.

Cohen: And that’s going to get me a book deal and a movie deal and a -- a spot on television? I don’t think so.

Foxx: Well, it appears that it will. I yield the remainder of my time.

12:51 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

Cohen points out that members are not asking about Trump

Michael Cohen pointed out that many committee members had not asked about President Trump during his testimony today.

The remarks came in an exchange with Republican Congressman Jim Jordan.

"All I wanted to say is I just find it interesting, sir, that between yourself and your colleagues that not one question so far since I'm here has been asked about President Trump. That's actually why I thought I was coming today. Not to confess the mistakes that I've made," Cohen said.

He went on to say that he's already talked about his mistakes.

"Yes, I've made mistakes and I'll say it now again and I'll pay the ultimate price and I am not here today and the American people don't care about my they want to know what it is that I know about Mr. Trump and not one question so far has been asked about Mr. Trump," Cohen said.

Watch the video here:

12:38 p.m. ET, February 27, 2019

Here's why GOP Rep. Jim Jordan gets to keep asking questions

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

If you're following today's hearing closely, you'll notice that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan is asking a lot of questions.

While every member on the committee gets five minutes to ask questions, they can also elect to yield some — or all — of that time to another member.

Many Republican representatives are giving their time to Jordan, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee.

Jordan and Cohen have exchanged several tense moments during this hearing. Earlier, Cohen even said, "Shame on you Mr. Jordan," after he claimed the congressman mischaracterized his testimony.