- Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, on Wednesday will say he is “ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts,” according to a statement he is expected to publicly deliver to lawmakers on the House oversight committee.
- In his prepared remarks, Cohen says Trump did not explicitly order him to lie to Congress but that such a directive was implied.
- “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress,” Cohen will say. “That’s not how he operates.”
- Cohen has said he is deeply ashamed of his actions over roughly a decade serving as a self-described fixer for Trump.
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, will tell lawmakers on Wednesday that he is “ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts,” according to a statement he is expected to publicly deliver to the House oversight committee.
The statement, first obtained by Politico on Tuesday night, provides a stark contrast from his past as one of Trump’s most fierce advocates. It also comes ahead of his scheduled prison sentence. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, campaign-finance violations, and lying to Congress.
According to the prepared remarks, Cohen will say that Trump did not explicitly order him to lie to Congress, as BuzzFeed News reported in January, but that such a directive was implied.
“Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress,” Cohen will say. “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 business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” Cohen will add, according to the prepared remarks. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”
Cohen’s pleading guilty of lying to Congress centres primarily on claims he made about his involvement in the Trump Organisation’s push to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the height of the campaign. Lawmakers on the House and Senate intelligence committees questioned Cohen extensively on the project last year, and Cohen expanded on it in statements he provided to both panels.
Prosecutors said Cohen knowingly misled congressional investigators when he said that negotiations for the deal ended in January 2016 and that he did not discuss it extensively with Trump Organisation executives.
They wrote that Cohen “discussed the status and progress of the Moscow Project” with Trump “on more than the three occasions Cohen claimed” to the Senate Intelligence Committee and that “he briefed family members” of Trump within the Trump Organisation about it.
Cohen was also discussing it with the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater as late as June 2016, the document said. Trump, who in 2016 was running for president, said repeatedly during the campaign that he had no business or financial interests tied to Russia.
Cohen will tell lawmakers on Wednesday that he is deeply ashamed by his actions and what he described as his gullibility in serving Trump for roughly a decade as his “fixer.”
“I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty – of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him,” Cohen’s prepared remarks said. “I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.”
In a stunning revelation, Cohen will also tell Congress that the longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone spoke with Trump about WikiLeaks’ plans to dump hacked emails that were damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign days before the Democratic National Convention in 2016.
Trump and Stone frequently spoke on the phone during the election, but both men have denied discussing any topics related to WikiLeaks, the hack of the Democratic National Committee, or any planned document dumps.
The FBI has determined that the Russian government was behind the DNC hack and subsequent dissemination of stolen emails though WikiLeaks and the Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0.
A day after Cohen’s public hearing on Wednesday, he is scheduled to testify in a closed-door session before the House Intelligence Committee.