Cohen claims batter Trump

Michael Cohen offered riveting testimony about his allegations against President TrumpDonald John TrumpHow to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions Omar: White supremacist attacks are rising because Trump publicly says 'Islam hates us' 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 WelchBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Divisions emerge over House drug price bills Trump CFO Weisselberg emerges as key person of interest for Dems 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 JordanTop GOP Judiciary rep: 'At this point the president has been proved right' about no collusion Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings Jim Jordan on Mueller probe: 'Distraction is finally over' MORE (Ohio), the committee’s top Republican.

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Jordan and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings CNN's Toobin: 'Swirl of suspicion' about more indictments not justified 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) GaetzTrump: I told Republicans to vote for 'transparency' in releasing Mueller report House votes for Mueller report to be made public Matt Gaetz jabs Don Lemon while talking to Chris Cuomo on CNN 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 CummingsPelosi rejects any classified briefings on Mueller report Trump, Congress brace for Mueller findings Ex-Georgia candidate calls for probe, says more than a hundred thousand votes went 'missing' 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 TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpFive things we know about Dems' sprawling Trump probe Kushner to cooperate with Judiciary document requests Hillicon Valley: Kushner accused of using WhatsApp, personal email for official work | White House rejects request for Trump-Putin communications | Facebook left 'hundreds of millions' of passwords unsecured | Tech pressured to root out extremism MORE and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpFox's Chris Wallace challenges Nadler on whether no more indictments means no 'criminal collusion' Nadler willing to go to Supreme Court to obtain Mueller report Five things we know about Dems' sprawling Trump probe 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 passes series of measures hitting Russia, Putin Exclusive: Biden to run for White House, says Dem lawmaker Dems struggle to turn page on Omar controversy 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.