Donald Trump apparently blessed the meeting his son took with the Russian delegation to get dirt on opponents in 2016 and welcomed advance word of efforts by WikiLeaks to disrupt the election, his former lawyer told Congress on Wednesday.
Those were only a few of the politically incendiary allegations Michael Cohen made in a landmark hearing before the House oversight committee, although he stopped short of accusing Trump and his campaign of full-on conspiracy with the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen did, however, allege that GOP political consultant Roger Stone phoned Trump to tell him before the fact that WikiLeaks intended to release a batch of emails that would embarrass the Democratic National Committee.
Cohen described being in Trump’s office when Stone called to say he had just talked with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about the release. Stone has denied that, but he too is facing charges about lying to Congress in a federal case in Washington, D.C.
Russian intelligence officers stole emails from the Democrats and others as part of a concerted attack on the U.S. election, although it still isn’t clear how much Trump and his campaign knew about Russia’s efforts, or whether the material WikiLeaks obtained had originated from the work of Russia’s intelligence services.
Cohen was asked whether he believed it was possible that Trump and his family might have been compromised, or whether they might have been willing to collude with the Russians. Yes, he said.
The basic position of the entire Republican party right now is:
“We KNOW Trump lied and broke the law, we know there is EVIDENCE he lied and broke the law, we know those lies fundamentally HURT the American people and WE DON’T CARE.”— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) February 27, 2019
Cohen also suggested that Donald Trump Jr. may have told his father about the June 2016 meeting he scheduled at Trump Tower following an offer of help from Russian government — one Trump has denied he knew about at the time.
But Trump knew about everything, Cohen said.
In response to questions by Rep. Lynch, Cohen said he previously lied to Congress to benefit Trump, but he’s not lying today:
“The lies that I told to Congress, in fairness, benefited Mr. Trump. I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore.” https://t.co/6Fh30U4jUF pic.twitter.com/idAPUTUp5Q— Bloomberg (@business) February 27, 2019
“There was nothing that happened at the Trump Organization … that did not go through Mr. Trump for his approval and sign off,” he said.
Cohen also made a number of other accusations against Trump:
Paying him, while in office, to cover the costs associated with buying the silence of a woman who said she’d had a sexual relationship with Trump years earlier — an allegation Trump has denied.
Implicitly instructing him to lie to Congress and the public about the negotiations the Trump business had carried on with powerful Russians about a potential Trump Tower real estate deal in Moscow.
Instructing him to lie about the medical deferments that Trump received that excused him from the draft during the Vietnam War. Cohen said Trump had no medical records to back up his claim of a valid medical deferment but said he wasn’t “stupid” and had no intention of being drafted.
Ordering him to find a fake buyer for a portrait of Trump to make it appear the painting had sold for a lot of money and was therefore valuable; actually, Cohen said, Trump arranged to use money from his foundation to inflate the sale price.