Cohen claims batter Trump

Michael Cohen offered riveting testimony about his allegations against President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE on Wednesday, laying into his former boss as a “racist” and a “cheat” in a packed House Oversight and Reform Committee room.

A decidedly contrite Cohen said he was ashamed of things he had done as Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, saying he had paid for his loyalty dearly.

“I blindly followed his demands,” Cohen said in closing remarks after more than seven hours of testimony. “My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything.”

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Wearing a powder-blue tie and with his attorney Lanny Davis behind him, Cohen offered up the names of Trump Organization employees who could be subject to scrutiny from congressional investigations and said Trump had prior knowledge of WikiLeaks’s dump of damaging Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential race.

Cohen, who has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigators and is due to begin serving a three-year prison term in May, offered an inside look at what he has shared with federal agents.

And he hinted at things that he has told investigators in private that he cannot share publicly, stating that he was unable to discuss “any other wrongdoing or illegal acts” committed by the president because they are tied to an ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

The former lawyer repeatedly made reference to Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, practically suggesting that Democrats bring him in for testimony.

He also named other staffers in the Trump Organization, including Trump’s personal secretary, saying they would be able to corroborate his claims.

Cohen testified extensively about Trump’s involvement in a scheme to pay off women who claimed to have had affairs with him during the 2016 campaign — in connection with which Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law.

“There is no doubt in my mind,” Cohen answered when asked about whether he had doubts Trump knew what he was paying for when he reimbursed Cohen for the hush-money payments throughout 2017, while he was in the Oval Office. Trump has offered shifting accounts of his knowledge of the payments but has denied any wrongdoing.

Cohen came to the hearing with a $35,000 check signed by Trump, evidence, he said, that showed he had been reimbursed.

Cohen also testified that he believed Trump inflated his assets in statements to Deutsche Bank in order to obtain a loan to bid on the Buffalo Bills.

Rep. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchShakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Democrats debate shape of new Jan. 6 probe On the Money: Tech giants face rising pressure from shareholder activists | House Democrats urge IRS to reverse Trump-era rule reducing donor disclosure | Sen. Warren, Jamie Dimon spar over overdraft fees at Senate hearing MORE (D-Vt.) said it would be ultimately up to the committee’s chairman to decide whether to call Trump Organization staffers to testify. But he said he was most interested in learning more about the president’s knowledge of the WikiLeaks email releases, as well as the Trump real estate projects.

Trump was “clearly misleading the American people at the height of the campaign,” Welch said.

Republicans used their time to rip into Cohen’s trustworthiness, arguing that he was upset that he was not given a job in Washington when Trump was elected and claiming that he would do almost anything to lower his prison sentence.

“You wanted to work for the White House, but you didn’t get brought to the dance,” said Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanJordan acknowledges talking to Trump on Jan. 6 AP Fact Check rates GOP claim Pelosi blocked National Guard on Jan. 6 'false' Officers' powerful Capitol riot testimony underscores Pelosi's partisan blunder MORE (Ohio), the committee’s top Republican.

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Jordan and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsMeadows says Trump World looking to 'move forward in a real way' Trump takes two punches from GOP Watchdog urges Justice to probe Trump, Meadows for attempting to 'weaponize' DOJ MORE (R-N.C.), both Trump stalwarts, took on most of the work, repeatedly questioning Cohen’s ability to even recognize the truth. Republicans repeatedly pointed out Cohen’s crimes, particularly his false statements to Congress, and some even quoted from a scathing Dec. 7 sentencing memo in which federal prosecutors in Manhattan recommended Cohen serve a lengthy jail sentence.

“Cohen’s consciousness of wrongdoing is fleeting … his remorse is minimal … his instinct to blame others is strong,” a poster displayed in the hearing room read, quoting from the court filing.

The hearing was filled with memorable moments. At one point, Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants MORE (R-Fla.), who a day before had issued a tweet seen as threatening Cohen, appeared in the committee room to consult with GOP members, a move that left onlookers wondering if Trump and his allies were seeking to send Cohen a signal.

The Florida Bar has announced that it was investigating Gaetz’s tweet that Democrats say smells of witness of intimidation.

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 — Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…,” Gaetz tweeted Tuesday and then later deleted following the backlash.

And the day ended with an emotional monologue from Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee MORE (D-Md.), who said he hoped Cohen’s testimony would “lead to a better Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America and a better world.”

Cohen also revealed that he briefed then-candidate Trump as well as Ivanka TrumpIvanka TrumpKushner launching investment firm in move away from politics: report Washington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics MORE and Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpDonald Trump Jr. joins Cameo Book claims Trump family members were 'inappropriately' close with Secret Service agents Trump Jr. shares edited video showing father knocking Biden down with golf ball MORE on efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow a half-dozen times during the presidential campaign.

And Cohen pushed back against an explosive BuzzFeed report that claimed Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress, saying that the president never directly told him to do anything but rather spoke in a “code” that suggested what he would like Cohen to say.

Cohen also acknowledged that while he suspected it, he had no direct knowledge of the Trump campaign colluding with the Kremlin.

Democrats generally sought to bolster Cohen, arguing he had little reason to lie.

“I would argue he has less motivation to lie now than he ever did before. What does he have to lose?” Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse bill targets US passport backlog Democrats weigh next steps on Jan. 6 probe Tlaib, Democrats slam GOP calls for border oversight to fight opioid crisis MORE (D-Va.) told reporters amid a break in the hearing to vote. “He is already going to jail. He has been disbarred. His family is fractured. His future is gone. Maybe he can get a book contract out of it. I would argue he has no motivation to lie right now, none.”

Trump was thousands of miles away from the hearing in Vietnam, where he is holding a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But it seemed impossible that he was not watching at least some of the dramatic happenings in Washington.

In an early morning tweet ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Trump launched a familiar attack on his former “fixer,” accusing him of “lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

Speaking to reporters following the hearing, Cummings said the committee would follow up on Cohen’s testimony.

“This is not the end of the process, but the beginning,” he said.

He also said the committee “probably” will want to hear from Weisselberg and Trump Jr., but noted they would be careful not to interfere with Mueller’s investigation or those of prosecutors in Manhattan. 

The House Intelligence Committee will question Cohen behind closed doors on Thursday.