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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  February 27, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PST

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chairman of this committee. it does underscore that this hearing is taking place in part because the democrats won in november pap they're the majority in the house of representatives. they can decide what to do. i don't know if michael cohen would be testifying if the republicans were still the majority in the house of representatives. >> i know. i know. >> i say that facetiously. >> the truth of the matter is oversight is congress's responsibility. if you like the guy in the white house and the party that controls congress is doing oversight, then you probably think they're a bunch of partisan hacks. if you don't like the guy in the white house, you probably think it is the most noble mission there is. i wanted to ask you about the credibility of michael cohen. we're talking about watergate, we're talking about john dean versus michael cohen. there are a lot of differences in terms of john dean was the white house council, michael cohen was a fixer outside the
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white house. john dean had credibility shisss also. people at the white house accused him of lying. michael cohen has much deeper ones. >> he does, because he had a known history of lying and perjuring, which we did not have with john dean. so that his credibility, as the republicans say, is central to what happens today. and the american people for the first time are going to get to judge his credibility based on how he appears today. let me add one point about the trump tower moscow and why it's so important. we knew very little from what mueller has shown us, but he has shown us through his investigators' questions to other witnesses that time and again he has asked about trump tower moscow and whether that is at the heart of a conspiracy. >> hold on. i think elijah cummings is about
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to bring this historic hearing to gavel. >> the committee will come to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time. the full committee hear iing wi hear the testimony of michael cohen, former attorney to president donald trump. >> mr. chairman, i have a point of order. >> state your point of order. >> rule f, rule 9 f of the committee rules say that any testimony from your witness needs to be here 24 hours in advance. the committee, the chairman knows well that at 10:08 we received the written testimony and then we received evidence this morning at 7:54. now, if this was just an oversight, mr. chairman, i could look beyond it, but it was an
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intentional effort by this witness and his advisors to once again show his disdain for this body. and with that, i move that we postpone this hearing. >> second. >> second. >> i want to thank the gentleman. let me say this, that we got the testimony late last night. we did. and we got it to you all pretty much the same time that we got it. i want to move forward with this hearing. >> mr. chairman, with all due respect, mr. chairman, this is a violation of the rule and if it was not intentional, i would not have a problem. i'm not saying it was intentional on your part. i'm saying it's intentional on his part, because mr. dean last night on a cable news network
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actually made it all very evident. john dean. and i'll quote, mr. chairman. he said, as a former committee council in the house judiciary committee and then a long-term witness sitting alone at the table is important. quote, holding your statement as long as you can so the other side can't chew it up is important as well, close quote. so it was advised that our witness got for this particular body -- and mr. chairman, when you were in the minority, you wouldn't have stood for it and i can tell you that we should not stand for it as a body. >> let me say this. >> mr. chairman -- >> yes. >> i move to table. >> mr. chairman? >> is there a second? >> mr. chairman, i was asked to be recognized before the motion. >> the vote is so in tabling the motion -- >> you know who had this material before all the members
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of the committee? cnn had it before we did. >> sir -- >> i just want to be recognized. >> yeah. well, the vote is on tabling the motion to postpone. all in favor, say aye. >> aye. >> all opposed say no. >> no. >> the ayes have it. >> i appeal the ruling of the chair. >> it's not a ruling of the chair. >> i can assure you it's in the rules. i appeal the ruling of the chair. do the rules matter, mr. chairman? >> i recognize the gentle lady. >> move to waive the rules, move to table. >> chairman -- >> the vote -- >> she made two motions. what's the motion? >> the vote is on tabling -- >> i move to table the appeal to the ruling of the chair. >> the vote is on that. all in favor say aye. >> aye. >> all opposed say no. >> no. >> the ayes have it. >> i ask for a recorded vote, mr. chairman. >> very well.
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the clerk will call the role. plnch >> mr. cummings? >> yes. >> ms. maloany? >> yes. >> ms. norton votes yes. mr. clay votes yes. mr. lynch. >> aye. >> mr. lynch votes question. mr. cooper -- mr. connolly -- >> so they're going through the roll call. it's starting off pretty contentious and i suspect this is only just the beginning. >> right. the objection from congressman mark meadows, who is the chairman of the very conservative house freedom caucus was that the testimony supposed to be supplied to the committee 24 hours ahead of time but it was not. they only got it last night and
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this morning they received the evidence that michael cohen will be introducing. it is a point of order that he is objecting to, congressman jim jordan, the ranking republican, then pointed out that cnn had a copy of the testimony last night. we should point out most major news organizations had a copy of the testimony last night, given by michael cohen for congressman jordan's own reason he's talking about cnn and not fox news, but we could move past that. this does not surprise me. this is a very partisan hearing and republicans are going to do whatever they can to chum up the water. >> that's the shame of it. the question is, is there a single republican on this committee who will make a real attempt to get at the facts, not filibust filibuster, not attack? and similarly, are the democrats going to step back and let this proceed in a respectful manner
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without making the issue their own speeches and listening to themselves in diatribes? >> i can answer that. >> mark meadows and jordan are two of the president's strongest defenders leading the charge here, not some of the other members of the committee. i have a question, why was matt gaetz walking through the committee room? >> not a member of this committee. >> no. >> but made a personal threat towards michael cohen yesterday. >> hold on. here are the results. >> motion to table is agreed to. let me say this. you've made it clear that you do not want the american people to hear what mr. cohen has to say, but the american people have a right to hear him. so we're going to proceed.
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the american people can judge his credibility for themselves. now -- >> mr. chairman? >> yes. >> we did not say that. we just said we wanted to follow the rules. we didn't say stop the hearing. we just said postpone it so we could get his testimony and the exhibits when we were supposed to get them according to the rules of this committee. >> reclaiming my time. i now recognize myself for five minutes to give an opening statement. today the committee will hear the testimony of michael cohen, president donald trump's long-time personal attorney and one of his closest and most trusted advisors over the last decade. on august 21st, mr. cohen appeared in federal court and admitted to arranging secret payoffs of hundreds of thousands
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of dollars on the eve of the election to silence women alleging affairs with donald trump. mr. cohen admitted to violating campaign finance laws and other laws. he admitted to committing these felonies, quote, in coordination with and at the direction of, unquote, president trump. and he admitted, he admitted to lying about his actions to protect the president. some will certainly ask if mr. cohen was lying then, why should we believe him now? this is a legitimate question. as a trial lawyer for many years, i have faced this situation over and over again
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and i asked the same question. here is how i view our role. every one of us in this room has a duty to serve as an independent check on the executive branch. ladies and gentlemen, we are in search of the truth. the president has made many statements of his own, and now the american people have a right to hear the other side. they can watch mr. cohen's testimony and make their own judgment. we received a copy of mr. cohen's written statement late last night. it includes not only personal eyewitness accounts of meetings with donald trump as president inside the oval office, but it also includes documents and other corroborating evidence for
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some of mr. cohen's statements. for example, mr. cohen has provided a copy of a check sent while president trump was in office with donald trump's signature on it to reimburse mr. cohen for the hush money payment to stormy daniels. this new evidence raises a host of troubling legal and ethical concerns about the president's actions in the white house and before. would you all close that door, please? thank you. this check is dated august 1st, 2017. six months later, in april of
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2018, the president denied anything about it. in april of 2018, president trump was flying on air force one when a reporter asked him the question, did you know about $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? the answer was, quote, no. a month after that, the president admitted to making payments to mr. cohen, but claimed they were part of a, quote, a monthly retainer, unquote, for legal services. this claim fell apart in august when federal prosecutors concluded, and i quote, in truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, end of quote.
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today, we will also hear mr. cohen's account of a meeting in 2016 in donald trump's office during which roger stone said over speakerphone that he had just spoken with julian assange, who said there would be a, quote, massive dump of e-mails that would damage hillary clinton's campaign, end of quote. according to cohen, mr. trump replied, quote, wouldn't that be great, end of quote. the testimony that michael cohen will provide today, ladies and gentlemen, is deeply disturbing and it should be troubling to all americans. we will all have to make our own evaluation of the evidence and mr. cohen's credibility. as he admits, he has repeatedly
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lied in the past. i agree with ranking member jordan that this is an important factor we need to weigh, but we must weigh it and we must hear from him. but where i disagree fundamentally with the ranking member involves his efforts to prevent the american people from hearing from mr. cohen. mr. cohen's testimony raises grave questions about the legality of president donald trump's conduct and the truthfulness of statements while he was president. we need to assess and investigate this new evidence as we uphold our constitutional oversight responsibilities. and we will continue after today to gather many documents and testimony in our search for the truth.
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i have made it abundantly clear to mr. cohen that if he comes here today and he does not tell us the truth, i will be the first one to refer those untruthful statements to doj. so when people say he doesn't have anything to lose, he has a lot to lose if he lies. and the american people, by the way, voted for accountability in november, and they have a right to hear mr. cohen in public so they can make their own judgments. mr. cohen's testimony is the beginning of the process, not the end. ladies and gentlemen, the days of this committee protecting the president at all costs are over. they're over. before i close, i want to
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comment about the scope of today's hearing. at the request of the house intelligence committee and my very good friend adam schiff, congressman adam schiff, the chairman, i intended over the objections of the ranking member of our committee to limit the scope of today's hearing to avoid questions about russia. however, mr. cohen's written testimony, in his written testimony, he's made statements relating to russia. and these are topics that we understand do not raise concern from the department of justice. so in fairness to the ranking member and all committee members, we will not restrict questions relating to the witness's testimony or related questions he is willing to answer. finally, i remind members that we will need to remain mindful
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of those areas where there are ongoing department of justice investigations. those scoping limitations have not changed. finally and to mr. cohen, martin luther king, mr. cohen, said some words that i leave with you today before you testify. he said, faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase. there comes a time when silence becomes betrayal. our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that truly matter. in the end, he says, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. and with that, i yield to the
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distinguished gentleman, the ranking member of our committee, mr. jordan. >> mr. chairman, point of parliamentary inquiry? >> yes. mr. jordan is recognized for his opening statement. >> mr. chairman, here we go. here we go. your first big hearing, your first announced witness, michael cohen. i want everyone in this room to think about this. the first announced witness for the 116th congress is a guy who is going to prison in two months for lying to congress. mr. chairman, your chairmanship will always be identified with this hearing and we all need to understand what this is. this is the michael cohen hearing presented by lanny davis. that's right, lanny davis choreographed the whole darn thing, the clintons' best friend, loyalist, operative, lanny davis put this all together. you know how we know?
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he told the committee staff. he said the hearing was his idea. he selected this committee. he had to talk michael cohen into coming. and most importantly, he had to persuade the chairman to actually have it. he told us it took two months to get that job done. but here we are. he talked him into it. this might be the first time someone convicted of lying to congress has appeared again so quickly in front of congress. certainly it's the first time a convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing. and there's a reason this is a first, because no other committee would do it. think about this. with mr. cohen here, this committee -- we got lots of lawyers on this committee. this committee is actually encouraging a witness to violate attorney/client privilege. mr. chairman, when we legitimize dishonesty, we delegitimize this institution. we're supposed to pursue the truth, but you have stacked the deck against the truth.
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we're only allowed to ask certain questions even with that amendment you just told us about, russia is now on the table. you told us we can't ask questions about the internal, the southern district of new york, can't ask questions about russia. nope, nope. only subjects we can talk about are ones you think are going to be harmful to the president of the united states. and the answers to those questions are going to come from a guy who can't be trusted. here's what the u.s. attorney said about mr. cohen. while mr. cohen enjoyed a privileged life, his desire for ever greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct. mr. cohen committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. he was motivated to do so by personal greed and repeatedly, repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. but the democrats don't care. they don't care.
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they just want to use you, mr. cohen. you're their patsy today. they've got to find somebody somewhere to say something so they can try to remove the president from office. because tom steyer told them to. tom steyer organized a town hall in manhattan. guess where? chairman cummings' district in baltimore. the best they can find to start this process, michael cohen. fraudster, cheat, convicted felon and in two months a federal inmate. actually they didn't find him. lanny davis found him. i'll say one thing about the democrats. they stick to the play book. remember how all this started. the clinton campaign hired perkins law firm, who hired glenn simpson who hired a
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foreigner christopher steele who put together the fake dossier the fbi used to get a warrant to spy on the trump campaign. but when that whole scheme failed and the american people said we're going to make donald trump president, they said we've got to do something else. so now clinton loyalist, clinton operative lanny davis has persuaded the chairman of the oversight committee to give a convicted felon a forum to tell stories and lie about the president of the united states so they can all start their impeachment process. mr. chairman, we are better than this. we are better than this. i yield back. >> i wanted to note -- >> mr. chairman, actually i have a motion. >> you yielded back. >> i have a motion. i have a motion under rule 2 k 6 of rule 11. >> you yielded back, sir.
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you yielded back. >> mr. chairman, you took seven minutes. i took four. >> the gentleman yielded back. >> that's how you're going to operate? first you don't follow the rules. >> your point of order. >> you deviate from the rules. i just have a simple motion, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> i wanted to order to have the testimony 24 hours in advance. >> excuse me. i wanted to note that under rule 11 clause 4 on media and photographers must be officially credentialed to record these proceedings and take photogra s photographs. i also wanted to briefly say to the spectators in the hearing room today. we respect your right to be here. we also ask in turn for your respect as we proceed with the business of the committee today. it is the intention of the committee to proceed without any
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disruptions, any disruptions of this committee will result in the united states capitol police restoring order and protesters will be removed. we are grateful for your presence here today and your cooperation. now i want to welcome mr. cohen and thank him for participating in today's hearing. mr. cohen, if you would please rise, i will begin to swear you in. raise your right hand. do you swear or affirm that the testimony that you are about to give is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? let the record show that the witness answered in the affirmative. thank you and you may be seated. the microphones are sensitive so please speak directly into them. without objection, your written statement will be made a part of the record. with that, mr. cohen, you are now recognized to give an oral
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presentation of your testimony. is your mike on? >> yes. chairman cummings, ranking member jordan and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here today. i have asked this committee to ensure that my family be protected from presidential threats and that the committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. i thank you for your help and for your understanding. i am here under oath to correct the record to answer the committee's questions truthful hi atruthfully and to offer the american people what i know about president trump. i recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. it is for this reason that i have incorporated into this
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opening statement documents that are irrefutable and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful. never in a million years did i imagine when i accepted a job in 2007 to work for donald trump that he would one day run for the presidency, to launch a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance and actively win. i regret the day i said yes to mr. trump. i regret all the help and spirit i gave him along the way. i am ashamed of my own failings and publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the southern district of new york. i am ashamed of my weakness and my misplaced loyalty, of the things i did for mr. trump in an
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effort to protect and promote him. i am ashamed that i clohose to take part in concealing mr. trump's elicit acts, rather than listening to my own conscience. i am ashamed because i know what mr. trump is. he is a racist, he is a conman, and he is a cheat. he was a presidential candidate who knew that roger stone was talking with julian assange about a wikileaks doron rop on democratic national committee e-mails. i will explain each in a few moments. i am providing the committee today with several documents. these include a copy of the check mr. trump wrote from his personal bank account after he became president to reimburse me for the hush money payments i
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made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and to prevent damage to his campaign. copies of financial statements from 2011, 2012 and 2013, that he gave to such institutions such as deutsche bank. a copy of an article with mr. trump's handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself that he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his nonprofit charitable foundation with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs. and copies of letters i wrote at mr. trump's direction that threatened his high school, colleges and the college board not to release his grades or s.a.t. scores. i hope my appearance here today,
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my guilty plea and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better. and before going further, i want to apologize to each member, to you as congress as a whole. the last time i appeared before congress, i came to protect mr. trump. today i am here to tell the truth about mr. trump. i lied to congress when mr. trump stopped negotiating the moscow tower project in russia. i stated that we stopped negotiating in january of 2016. that was false. our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign. mr. trump did not directly tell
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me to lie to congress. that's not how he operates. in conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time i was actively negotiating in russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there's no russian business and then go onto lie to the american people by saying the same thing. in his way, he was telling me to lie. there were at least a half a dozen times between the iowa caucus in january of 2016 and the end of june when he would ask me, how's it going in russia, referring to the moscow tower project. you need to know that mr. trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to congress about the timing of the moscow tower negotiations before i gave it. so to be clear, mr. trump knew
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of and directed the trump moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. he lied about it because he never expected to win. he also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the moscow real estate project. and so i lied about it too, because mr. trump had made clear to me through his personal statements to me that we both knew to be false and through his lies to the country that he wanted me to lie. and he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before i gave it to congress. over the past two years, i have been smeared as a rat by the president of the united states. the truth is much different. let me take a brief moment to
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introduce myself. my name is michael dean cohen. i am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son. when i married my wife, i promised her that i would love her, i would cherish her and i would protect her. as my father said countless times throughout my childhood, you my wife and you my children are the air that i breathe. so to my laura and my sam msamm my jake, there's nothing i wouldn't do to protect you. i have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity and compassion. it's qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. my father survived the holocaust thanks to the compassion and
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selfless acts of others. he was helped by many who put themselves in harm's way to do what they knew was right. and that is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. mom and dad, i am sorry i let you down. as the many people that know me best would say, i am the person that they call at 3:00 a.m. if they needed help. and i proudly remember being the emergency contact for many of my children's friends when they were growing up because their parents knew that i would drop everything and care for them as if they were my own. yet last fall i plead guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of and in coordination with individual number one. and for the record, individual
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number one is president donald j. trump. it is painful to admit that i was motivated by ambition at times. it is even more painful to admit that many times i ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when i should not have. sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that i was so mesmerized by donald trump that i was willing to do things for him that i knew were absolutely wrong. for that reason, i have come here to apologize to my family, to my government and to the american people. accordingly, let me now tell you about mr. trump. i got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than ten years as his
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executive vice president and special counsel and then as personal attorney when he became president. when i first met mr. trump, he was a successful entrepreneur, a real estate giant and an icon. being around mr. trump was intoxicating when you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself, that you were somehow changing the world. i wound up touting the trump narrative for over a decade. that was my job, always stay on message, always defend. it monopolized my life. at first, i worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. shortly thereafter, mr. trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. over time i saw his true character revealed.
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mr. trump is an enigma. he is complicated, as am i. he is both good and bad, as do we all. but the bad far outweighs the good. since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. he is capable of behaving kindly, but he's not kind. he is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. he is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal. donald trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. he had no desire or intention to lead this nation, only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. mr. trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the greatest infomercial in
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political history. he never expected to win the primary. he never expected to win the general election. the campaign for him was always a marketing opportunity. i knew early on in my work for mr. trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. i am ashamed to say that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, i considered it trivial. as the president, i consider it significant and dangerous. but in the mix, lying for mr. trump was normalized and no one around him questioned it. in fairness, no one around him today questions it either. a lot of people have asked me about whether mr. trump knew about the release of the hacked documents, the democratic national committee e-mail ahead
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of time. and the answer is yes. as i earlier stated, mr. trump knew from roger stone in advance about the wikileaks drop of e-mails. in july of 2016, days before the democratic convention, i was in mr. trump's office when his secretary announced that roger stone was on the phone. mr. trump put mr. stone on the speakerphone. mr. stone told mr. trump that he had just gotten off the phone with julian assange and that mr. assange told mr. stone that within a couple of days there would be a massive dump of e-mails that would damage hillary clinton's campaign. mr. trump responded by stating to the effect, wouldn't that be great. mr. trump is a racist. the country has seen mr. trump court white supremacists and big
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got bigots. you have heard him call foreign countries shitholes. he once asked me if i could name a country run by a black wasn't that wasn't a shithole. this was when barack obama was president of the united states. while we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. and he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid. and yet i continued to work for him. mr. trump is a cheat. as previously stated i am giving to the committee today three years of mr. trump's personal financial statements from 2011,
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2012 and 2013, which he gave to deutsche bank to inquire about a loan to buy the buffalo bills and to forbes. these are exhibits 1a, 1b and 1c to my testimony. it was my experience that mr. trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in portion. and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes. i'm sharing with you two newspaper articles side by side that are examples of mr. trump inflating and deflating his assets, as i said, to suit his financial interests. these are exhibit 2 to my testimony. as i noted, i am giving the committee today an article he wrote on and sent to me that reported on an auction of a portrait of mr. trump.
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this is exhibit 3a to my testimony. mr. trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned off at an art hamptons event. the objective was to ensure that this portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. the portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. mr. trump directed the trump foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder despite keeping the art for himself. please see exhibit 3b to my testimony. and it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that mr. trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom are small businesses that were
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owed money for their services and told them that no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. when i asked mr. trump or when i told mr. trump of my success, he actually revelled in it. and yet i continued to work for him. mr. trump is a conman. he asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair and to lie about it to his wife, which i did. and lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets, because she is a kind, good person, and i respect her greatly. and she did not deserve that. and i'm giving the committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to ms. clifford's attorney during the closing days of the presidential
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campaign that was demanded by ms. clifford to maintain her silence about her affair with mr. trump. this is exhibit 4 to my testimony. mr. trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a home equity line of credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. and i did that too without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how would it impact me, my family or the public. and i am going to jail in part because of my decision to help mr. trump hide that payment from the american people before they voted a few days later. as exhibit 5a to my testimony shows, i am providing a copy of
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a $35,000 check that president trump personally signed from his personal bank account on august 1st of 2017, when he was president of the united states, pursuant to the cover-up which was the basis of my guilty plea to reimburse me. the word used by mr. trump's tv lawyer for the illegal hush money i paid on his behalf. this $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year while he was president. other checks to reimburse me for the hush money payments were signed by donald trump jr. and alan weisselberg. see for that example 5b. the president of the united states thus wrote a personal
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check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. you can find the details of that scheme directed by mr. trump in the pleadings in the u.s. district court for the southern district of new york. picture this scene. in february of 2017, one month into his presidency, i'm visiting president trump in the oval office for the first time, and it's truly awe inspiring. he's showing me all around and pointing to different paintings. and he says to me something to the effect of, don't worry, michael, your january and february reimbursement checks are coming. they were fed exed from new york. and it takes a while for that to get through the white house system. as he promised, i received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not
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long thereafter. when i say conman, i'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant, but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges and the college board to never release his grades or s.a.t. scores. as i mentioned, i'm giving the committee today copies of a letter i sent at mr. trump's direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if mr. trump's grades or s.a.t. scores were ever disclosed without his permission. these are under exhibit 6. the irony wasn't lost on me at the time that mr. trump in 2011 had strongly criticized president obama for not releasing his grades. as you can see in exhibit 7, mr.
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trump declared, let him show his records after calling president obama a terrible student. the sad fact is that i never heard mr. trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. in fact, he did the opposite. when telling me in 2008 or 2009 that he was cutting employee salaries in half, including mine, he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million irs tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving someone like him that much money back. during the campaign, mr. trump said that he did not consider vietnam veteran and prisoner of war senator john mccain to be a hero because he likes people who
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weren't captured. at the same time, mr. trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the vietnam draft. mr. trump claimed it was because of a bone spur. but when i asked for medical records, he gave me none and said that there was no surgery. he told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters, but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment. he finished the conversation with the following comment, you think i'm stupid, i'm not going to vietnam. and i find it ironic, mr. president, that you are in vietnam right now. and yet i continued to work for him. questions have been raised about whether i know of direct evidence that mr. trump or his
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campaign colluded with russia. i do not. and i want to be clear, but i have my suspicions. sometime in the summer of 2017, i read all over the media that there had been a meeting in trump tower in june of 2016 involving don junior and others from the campaign with russians, including a representative of the russian government. in an e-mail setting up the meeting with the subject line "dirt on hillary clinton." something clicked in my mind. i remembered being in a room with mr. trump probably in early june of 2016 when something peculiar happened. don trump jr. came into the room and walked behind his father's desk, which in and of itself was unusual. people didn't just walk behind mr. trump's desk to talk to him. and i recalled don junior
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leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which i could clearly hear and saying, "the meeting is all set." i remember mr. trump saying, "okay, good, let me know." what struck me as i look back and thought about the exchange between don junior and his father was, first, that mr. trump had frequently told me and others that his son don junior had the worst judgment of anyone in the world, and also that don junior would never set up any meeting of significance alone and certainly not without checking with his father. i also knew that nothing went on in trump world, especially the campaign, without mr. trump's knowledge and approval. so i concluded that don junior was referring to that june 2016 trump tower meeting about dirt
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on hillary with the russian representatives when he walked behind his dad's desk that day and that mr. trump knew that was the meeting don junior was talking about when he said, "that's good, let me know." over the past year or so, i have done some real soul searching and i see now that my ambition and the intoxication of trump power had much to do with the bad decisions in part that i made. and to you, chairman cummings and ranking member jordan and the other members of this committee, the members of the house and senate, i am sorry for my lies and for lying to congress and to our nation, i am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about mr. trump when you needed it most. for those who question my
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motives for being here today, i understand. i have lied, but i am not a liar. i have done bad things, but i am not a bad man. i have fixed things, but i am no longer your fixer, mr. trump. and i am going to prison and have shattered the safety and security that i tried so hard to provide for my family. my testimony certainly does not diminish the pain that i have caused my family and my friends. nothing can do that. and i have never asked for it, nor would i accept a pardon from president trump. and by coming today, i have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the president and his lawyer trying to intimidate me from appearing before this
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panel. mr. trump called me a rat for choosing to tell the truth, much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government. as exhibit 8 shows, i have provided the committee with copies of tweets that mr. trump posted, attacking me and my family. only someone burying his head in the sand would not recognize them for what they are. it's encouragement to someone to do harm to me and my family. i never imagined that he would engage in vicious, false attacks on my family and unleash his tv lawyer to do the same. i hope this committee and all members of congress on both sides of the aisle make it clear that as a nation we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate
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witnesses before congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable. i wish to especially thank speaker pelosi for her statements. that's exhibit 9. to protect this institution and me. and the chairman of the house permanent select committee on intelligence, adam schiff, and you chairman cummings for likewise defending the institution and my family against the attacks by mr. trump and also the many republicans who have admonished the president as well. i am not a perfect man. i have done things i am not proud of and i will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life. but today i get to decide the example that i set for my children and how i attempt to change how history will remember
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me. i may not be able to change the past, but i can do right by the american people here today. and i thank you for your attention and am happy to answer the committee's questions. >> thank you very much, mr. cohen. i now recognize myself. mr. cohen, before i start, i want to make sure you really understand something. you have admitted lying to congress, to this very body. and now you're going to prison for it. do you, mr. cohen, recognize the gravity of your offenses? you are a lawyer, right? >> as of yesterday, i am no longer a lawyer. i have lost my law license amongst other things. >> but you understand the gravity of this moment? >> i most certainly do, mr. chairman. >> i want you to really hear this, mr. cohen. we will not tolerate lying to
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this congress by anybody. we're in search of the truth. do you understand that? >> i do. >> now, the president has also made numerous statements that turned out to be inaccurate. for example, he said he knew nothing about the hush money payments to ms. clifford. and his 2017 financial disclosure form said he never owed money to reimburse you for those payments. yet, in your testimony, mr. cohen, you said that you met with the president in the oval office in february of 2017 and discussed his plans to reimburse you for money you paid. you say he told you, and i quote, "don't worry, michael, your january and february reimbursement checks are coming." is that accurate? and was that in the oval office?
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>> the statement is accurate, but the discussions regarding the reimbursement occurred long before he became president. >> would you explain that? >> back in 2017 -- actually lly apologize. in 2016 prior to the election, i was contacted by keith davidson, who was the attorney for ms. clifford, for stormy daniels. and after several rounds of conversations with him about purchasing her life rights for $130,000, what i did each and every time is go straight into mr. trump's office and discuss the issue with him. when it was ultimately determined -- and this was days
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before the election -- that mr. trump was going to pay the $130,0 $130,000, in the office with me was alan weissleberg, the chief financial officer of the trump organization. he acknowledged to alan that he was going to pay the 130,000 and that alan and i should go back to his office and figure out how to do it. so yes, sir, i stand by the statement that i gave, but there was a history to it. >> in your testimony, you said you brought some checks, is that right? >> yes, sir. >> let me ask you about one of these. this from the trump trust that holds the president's businesses, can you tell me who signed this check? >> i believe that the top
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signature is donald trump jr. and that the bottom signature is, i believe, is alan weissleberg's. >> can you tell me the date of that check? >> march 17th of 2017. >> wait a minute. hold up. the date on the check is after president trump held his big press conference claiming that he gave up control of his businesses. how could the president have arranged for you to get this check if he was supposedly playing no role in his business? >> because the payments were designed to be paid over the course of 12 months, and it was declared to be a retainer for services that would be provided for the

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