Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Michael Cohen faces the music this week with three days of planned testimony before various House and Senate committees, starting with closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, but the real fun comes at the House Oversight Committee hearing tomorrow, which will be public.  Cohen plans to unload on his former boss and Republicans and their various mouthpieces are already moving to discredit him.

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, is planning on portraying his onetime client in starkly negative terms when he testifies Wednesday before a House committee, and on describing what he says was Mr. Trump’s use of racist language, lies about his wealth and possible criminal conduct.

Mr. Cohen’s plans were laid out in broad strokes by a person familiar with what he intends to say in his testimony. And they indicate that Mr. Cohen will use documents and his personal experiences to support his statements.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denounced Mr. Cohen.

“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” she said. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”

Mr. Trump and his allies have been preparing for days for Mr. Cohen’s testimony, which will take place over several hours while the president is in Vietnam for a summit meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The president’s aides have been anxious about the effect that the testimony might have on him.

They anticipate, though, that Republican allies on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will aggressively question Mr. Cohen’s credibility, trying to paint him as a liar and accusing him of fabricating stories to help his cause.

Lanny J. Davis, a lawyer and adviser to Mr. Cohen, declined to discuss details of Mr. Cohen’s testimony, saying only that Mr. Cohen “worked very hard on this moment to not only tell the truth, but to back it up with documents.” Mr. Davis said Mr. Cohen’s response to questions about his truthfulness will be “I take full responsibility, I lied in the past; now you have to decide if I’m telling the truth.”

The testimony provides Mr. Cohen with the opportunity to tell his story under penalty of perjury before an audience of millions of people, about two months before he is scheduled to report to prison.

Among the most explosive and potentially damning aspects of Mr. Cohen’s testimony will be providing evidence of potential criminal conduct since Mr. Trump became president, according to the person familiar with the plans.

That potential conduct stems from reimbursements that were made to Mr. Cohen in 2017 for hush money payments that he made to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress. In October 2016, during the height of the presidential campaign, Mr. Cohen paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her claims of a previous affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen will describe in what was called “granular detail” the plan to pay Ms. Daniels, which he will say was initiated by Mr. Trump, the person familiar with the testimony plans said. Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty to a federal campaign finance-related charge in connection with that payment. Prosecutors have implicated Mr. Trump, identifying him as “Individual 1,” in connection with that charge in documents filed in the case.

He will also discuss how long Mr. Trump continued to ask about plans for a Trump Tower project in Moscow after the Iowa caucuses had taken place in February 2016. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last November to lying to Congress in testimony in 2017 about the duration of time over which the Moscow project discussions took place.

Indeed, the attacks against Cohen today have gone full-court press, the White House attacking him, House Republicans attacking him, and various right-wing outlets all laying into Cohen as a liar before he even opened his mouth.  That should tell you how scared they are of tomorrow's testimony.

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