Trump is a 'racist' and 'conman': Michael Cohen testifies (WATCH INSIDE)
President Trump's former personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen is testifying before lawmakers on Capitol Hill as Washington prepares for the final report from the special counsel's nearly two-year investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
According to his prepared remarks, provided to CBS by a congressional source, Cohen is expected to tell the committee, "He [Trump] racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat." He'll testify about hush money payments and the Trump Tower Moscow project, and he has provided documents to back up his unflattering statements about his former boss.
Cohen can also expect to face intensive questioning by members of the House Oversight Committee about the lies he told to congressional investigators in 2017. He is facing a number of charges:
- Charged with making false statements to Congress (sentenced to two months in prison)
- Charged with violating campaign finance law in a separate case involving the hush money payments paid to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump (Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison).
2:23 p.m.: Cohen testified he lied to Melania Trump about Mr. Trump's knowledge of the hush payments made to women alleging affairs with Mr. Trump, at the direction of Mr. Trump.
2:16 p.m.: Cohen was asked why the Trump Tower Moscow deal came to a halt. Cohen claimed it's because Mr. Trump won.
Cohen was asked by Republican Rep. Carol Miller whether he plans to pursue a book deal in the future about his experiences.
"Yes," Cohen responded simply.
Cohen answered a series of questions from Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier -- including whether Mr. Trump has a love child.
Cohen said he doesn't believe the president has a love child. Cohen also said he doesn't believe Mr. Trump ever struck Melania Trump.
1:45 p.m. Finally, nearly three hours into his testimony, Cohen answered a long-awaited question of whether he has ever been to Prague.
"I've never been to Prague," Cohen said.
1:09 p.m. WikiLeaks tweeted, in response to Cohen's testimony, said "WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has never had a telephone call with Roger Stone. WikiLeaks publicly teased its pending publications on Hillary Clinton and published > 30k of her emails on 16 March 2016."
1:15 p.m. Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican, asked Cohen what Mr. Trump fears most.
Cohen paused for a long moment, before responding that he can't answer that question.
1:06 p.m. Cohen testified that changes were being made until late in the night making changes to his testimony. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow made some changes to the testimony, Cohen claimed.
Cohen claimed changes related to the length and timing of the Trump Tower Moscow project.
12:48 p.m.: Cohen said he handled important personal legal matters of Mr. Trump's when serving as his Special Counsel.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asked about the non-disclosures that Cohen help facilitate for Mr. Trump. Citing the campaign staffer that recently became public in her lawsuit against the president after being allegedly assaulted, Cohen testified that the NDAs would keep people silent, "that was the goal," Cohen said.
Cohen was unaware if anyone is prevented from speaking up about the president because of NDA's that are being used against them.
Cohen asked about any illegal act by Mr. Trump and noted that those are being looked at and investigated by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
Asked about the last time he and Mr. Trump spoke, Cohen said he couldn't elaborate.
"Unfortunately, this topic is actually something that's being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York and I've been asked by them not to talk about these issues," Cohen said.
Asked if there are any other illegal acts or wrongdoings federal prosecutors are investigating, Cohen responded, "yes."
12:30 p.m.: "Between yourself and your colleagues, no question since I have been here has been asked about President Trump, that's actually why I was coming today, not to confess the mistakes I've made, I've already done that," Cohen told Jordan, appearing to critize Republicans' line of questioning at Wednesday's hearing.
He added, "The American people don't care about my taxes, they want to know what I know [about Trump]."
Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia appeared to side with Cohen, saying that the argument Republicans are using to question Cohen would make the convictions of organized crime "null and void."
12:25 p.m.: Rep. Virginia Foxx noted the lies Cohen is convicted of, asking if Wednesday's testimony is a way to keep himself in the spotlight, Cohen responded, "no ma'am."
Foxx asked that he commit under oath that Cohen not commit to a movie or book deal. Cohen said "no." Cohen clarified that he has spoken to people about a book or movie deal. He said he would not commit to that or commit to working for TV networks or running for office in New York state.
He said he doesn't think those deals would come out of his experience.
More than two hours into the hearing, Cohen requested a break. The chairman agreed. It's unclear how long the break will last.
11:59 a.m.: Cohen and Trump ally Rep. Mark Meadows got into a heated exchange, in which Cohen said he is a nice guy, and Meadows said the record speaks differently.
11:17 a.m.: President Trump's sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric, weighed in on Cohen's claims that he never wanted to work in the White House, slamming his testimony as untrue.
"Michael was lobbying EVERYONE to be 'Chief of Staff.' It was the biggest joke in the campaign and around the office. Did he just perjure himself again?" Eric wondered on Twitter.
Trump Jr. echoed his brother, tweeting, "Michael Cohen begged to work at the White House and everyone knows it." He added that it was the "biggest joke of the entire transition. The beginning of his bitterness was when he realized that was never going to happen."
11:13 a.m: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz asked Cohen if there was reason to believe that the entire Trump family was conflicted by or compromised with a foreign adversary months before the 2016 election, Cohen replied, "Yes."
Wasserman Schultz, who was head of the DNC at the time of its hacking, pressed Cohen on the WikiLeaks email dumps. Cohen testified that the president had "advanced notice" about the dump of emails.
Wasserman Schultz later said that the Trump campaign appeared to be "filthy with Russian contact" throughout the majority of the race. Asked if Mr. Trump was "fully aware and had every intent of working with Russia to help make sure he could win the presidency at all costs," Cohen replied that "Mr. Trump's desire to win would have him work with anyone."
11:05 a.m.: "Did you lie to protect the president or did you lie to protect yourself?" Rep. Jim Jordan pressed Cohen, suggesting he had a history of lying repeatedly, bringing up his past financial crimes against him.
Jordan brought up a "Women for Michael Cohen" Twitter account that said Cohen is "handsome" and "sexy" as an example.
"That was not done to protect the president," Cohen said, claiming he didn't create the account.
"We were having fun during a stressful time."
10:57 a.m.: "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 will make it clear: As a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before Congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable," said Cohen.
Cohen made those remarks as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, stood on the side of the hearing room watching as Cohen delivered his remarks. Gaetz, who isn't on the House Oversight Committee, deleted his controversial tweet about Cohen last night -- which many saw as threatening -- and apologized.
10:51 a.m.: I have lied but I am not a liar...I have fixed things but I am no longer your fixer Mr. Trump," Cohen testified.
He went on to say he is going to jail, but is not trying to get a pardon, and wouldn't accept one from the president even if offered.
10:49 a.m.: Cohen recalled Donald Trump Jr. informing his father that a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower had been arranged involving members of the Trump campaign and a representative of the Russian government to potentially discuss "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. He said the interaction between son and father struck him as odd as Mr. Trump had "frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgement of anyone in the world."
Cohen added that "nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump's knowledge and approval."
10:48 a.m.: Cohen said that when asked for medical records to back up the president's claims on the campaign trail that he suffered from a bone spur, leading to a medical deferment from the Vietnam draft, "he gave me non and said there was no surgery."
Cohen said Mr. Trump had told him not to answer any specific questions from reporters. "He finished the conversation with the following comment. 'You think I'm stupid? I'm not going to Vietnam,'" Cohen recalled.
The former attorney said it was "ironic" that Mr. Trump now finds himself in Vietnam conducting a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
10:39 a.m.: Cohen notes that the president has been accused of courting white supremacists, but he claims the reality is "worse."
"He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn't a 'sh**hole.' This was when Barack Obama was president of the United States," Cohen said. "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."
10:30 a.m.: Cohen testified he lied to Congress about Mr. Trump's involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations, saying the president was aware of them well into the 2016 presidential campaign and directed negotiations.
"Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it," Cohen said. "He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. 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 were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie."
Cohen said that Mr. Trump's lawyers "reviewed and edited" his testimony to Congress about the timing of the project before he gave it.
10:29 a.m.: Cohen said the president had arranged for a bidder to purchase a portrait of Mr. Trump in advance of an auction and later reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation. The picture now hands in one of his Trump International golf clubs.
The president at the time tweeted he had "just found out" the portrait of himself had been sold for $60,000.
10:28 a.m.: Cohen provided Congress documents showing a copy of $35,000 check Mr. Trump made out to Cohen from his personal bank account to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels, to avoid any money being traced back to the president and the campaign. Mr. Trump previously denied having any knowledge of such payments when asked by reporters.
10:26 a.m.: "He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat," Cohen said of the president in his opening remarks.
Cohen details in his remarks that Mr. Trump knew his confidant Roger Stone was coordinating with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks dump of DNC emails and that Mr. Trump not only knew about Trump Tower Moscow negotiations well into the 2016 presidential campaign, but directed them.
While Cohen is not expected to answer any specific questions about Mueller's Russia probe, CBS News' Paula Reid reports that Cohen is not talking about collusion in the WikiLeaks case -- he is implying the president may have lied to the special counsel about these events.
Reid reports that Cohen's testimony doesn't prove anything but raises questions about whether Mr. Trump's answers to written questions from the special counsel's office match what other witnesses and evidence indicate happened.
10:25 a.m.: Cohen repeatedly testifies that he's "ashamed" of his actions, namely for saying "yes" to Mr. Trump."
"I regret the day I said "yes" to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way."
Cohen says that he's accepted responsibility for his own failings, pointing to his violation of campaign finance laws for his role in accepting hush money to conceal the president's alleged affair. "I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience," he said.
10:19 a.m.: "Lanny Davis put this all together," ranking member Jordan said. He said it's the first time a "convicted perjurer has been brought back to be a star witness in a hearing...no other committee would do it."
10:15 a.m."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," said Cummings in his opening remarks.
"The testimony Mr. Cohen will provide is deeply disturbing and should be troubling for all Americans," he added. Cummings said he will be the first one to refer Cohen's "untruthful statements" to the Department of Justice if he attempts to lie once again to members of Congress.
10:02 a.m.: House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows attempted to postpone the hearing saying it was an "intentional effort" by Cohen to "show his disdain" for the congressional body by not providing his testimony more than 24 hours in advance.
"We should not stand for it as a body," Meadows exclaimed. Committee Ranking Member Rep. Jim Jordan later chimed in, claiming that CNN had Cohen's testimony before a majority of the committee members.
Committee members then held a vote to resume the hearing.
Promptly at 10 a.m., Cohen sits down at the witness table in the House hearing chamber.