Michael Cohen testimony live: Former lawyer makes explosive claims against ‘racist’ and ‘cheat’ Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s former lawyer has labelled the President a "racist" and a "cheat" in an explosive testimony in front of Congress this afternoon, adding that the real estate mogul directed plans for a Russian skyscraper even during his White House campaign.
At a blockbuster House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing today, erstwhile aide to the President Michael Cohen said: "I am ashamed because I know what Mr Trump is. He is a racist, he is a conman and he is a cheat."
Striking a contrite and apologetic tone in front of a room full of politicians and journalists on Capitol Hill, Cohen said: "I regret the day I said yes to Mr Trump…I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way…I am ashamed of my weaknesses and misplaced loyalty of the things I did for Mr Trump to protect him."
"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 President, launch a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win."
Read more: Mueller rebuffs reports Trump told ex-lawyer Cohen to lie to Congress
Michael Cohen has provided the House Oversight Cmte. with a pair of $35,000 checks (one seen here) that he says he received in 2017 are reimbursements for the $130,000 hush money payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels weeks before the 2016 election. pic.twitter.com/8a52ejvKtY
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 27, 2019
Cohen, who is set to begin a three-year prison term in May for the campaign violations, added: "I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience."
Trump hit back at the claims, some of which were leaked ahead of today's testimony, saying that Cohen was lying to reduce his prison time.
As part of his claims that Trump is a racist, Cohen alleges that while Trump and Cohen were once driving through a struggling neighbourhood in Chicago, the President said that "only black people could live that way".
According to Cohen, the real estate mogul also said that "black people could never vote for him because they were too stupid".
Cohen added that Trump-associate Roger Stone told the President in advance about Wikileaks' plans to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee: "Mr Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails," Cohen said.
He added: "In July 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 emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great."
The committee chair Elijah Cummings kicked off the hearing this afternoon, saying that Cohen’s testimony "raises grave questions about the legality of president trump’s conduct and the truthfulness of statements while he was president".
More to follow