House panel had 'productive' interview with Trump ex-lawyer Cohen

The committee on Wednesday became the first congressional panel this year to hold a public hearing involving a key player in the issues surrounding Trump, his former longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

With more attention turning to President Trump's business and the legal problems it could cause him, Weisselberg will be at the center of the story.

"It was very interesting because he didn't lie about one thing".

Democrat Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Cohen would return for further questioning next Wednesday to give lawmakers another chance to follow up on allegations of wrongdoing that Cohen leveled at his former boss this week.

In their charging document against Cohen, New York federal prosecutors said he sent monthly false invoices to Weisselberg, who forwarded them to Trump Jr. Representatives for Trump did not respond to the allegations at the time. Jim Jordan of OH and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, sent a referral to the Justice Department alleging Cohen lied in his testimony.

Cohen then testified that he recalled being in a room with Trump, perhaps in early June 2016, when Trump Jr. entered the room, leaned to his father and said in a low voice, "the meeting is all set". "Our reporting ... I have been told, all of us, by people in and around the process real time, he very much wanted a job in the White House".

This could include US President Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr, as well as former Trump CFO Allen Weissleberg.

Democrats believe Cohen has details about how long into the 2016 campaign Trump pursued plans to build a tower in Moscow, the extent to which Trump knew what WikiLeaks had planned, and whether Trump committed financial crimes with banks or campaign finance violations.

Cohen also said Trump directed him to arrange the hush money payment to Daniels.

Indeed, Cohen flatly confirmed that Weisselberg is the go-to person on this sort of thing.

Of course, this narrative of Cohen's actions has always been discredited by the state attorney's office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), whichstressed that Cohen often exhibited an "instinct to blame others" for his illegal acts. Cohen said he could not discuss that conversation, the last contact he said he has had with the president or anyone acting on his behalf, because it remains under investigation.

Some of the most damaging disclosures may relate to Trump's financial information.

As well, Jordan and Meadows wrote, Cohen lied about creating a pro-Cohen Twitter account (@WomenForCohen), payments to porn star Stephanie Clifford, and whether he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That claim contradicts reporting and statements by the US attorney for the Southern District of NY, who stated in court documents that in private communications, Cohen had told friends that he wanted a job in the Trump administration - and that when he didn't get one, he "found a way to monetize his relationship with an access to the President". He's due to start a three-year prison sentence in May.

Jordan and Meadows also pointed to a tweet from Darrell Scott, a pastor and Trump campaign faith-based outreach coordinator.

In a series of unhinged tweets on Friday morning, Trump alleged that Cohen wrote a book called "Love Letters To Trump" and was shopping it around after the incidents in Charlottesville and Helsinki, which Cohen said were factors in his decision to go rogue. He recounted how Trump made racist remarks, claiming he said African-Americans were "too stupid" to vote for him.

In other tweets Friday, Trump suggested Democrats were using Cohen to investigate his business dealings and finances because a two-year investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign "has fallen apart".

Cohen's opening statement contained a rather remarkable claim - according to the disbarred attorney, the President conducted business in Moscow during the election because he never expected - or even seriously intended - to beat Hillary Clinton.

  • Joey Payne