Michael Cohen unloads on Trump in explosive testimony

In long-awaited and explosive testimony before a congressional panel President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said that as a candidate Trump was aware Roger Stone was working with WikiLeaks to disseminate hacked emails, and that after he took office the president reimbursed Cohen with a personal check for hush money payments to actress Stormy Daniels.

In his opening statement at a Wednesday morning hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the president’s former personal lawyer and Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman attacked Trump’s character and described the work he did for him over a decade, as a lawyer and fixer in matters concerning his private and business life, campaign and presidency. Among the new details in Cohen’s account, Trump had him threaten his schools and the College Board not to disclose his grades or SAT scores, and that at the same time he cut his employees’ salaries by 50 percent Trump received a $10 million refund from the IRS — and made fun of the government’s stupidity in sending him money.

RELATED: Michael Cohen testifies about President Trump 

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, arrives to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, is sworn in to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, listens during a House Oversight Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Cohen plans to tell a congressional committee about alleged misdeeds by his former boss, claiming that Trump knew during the 2016 presidential election that his ally Roger Stone was talking to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks about a release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, listens during a House Oversight Committee hearing with Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Cohen plans to tell a congressional committee about alleged misdeeds by his former boss, claiming that Trump knew during the 2016 presidential election that his ally Roger Stone was talking to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks about a release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio and ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, pauses while speaking during a hearing with Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Cohen plans to tell a congressional committee about alleged misdeeds by his former boss, claiming that Trump knew during the 2016 presidential election that his ally Roger Stone was talking to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks about a release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-NY) listens as Michael Cohen, attorney for President Trump, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, holds document during a House Oversight Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Cohen brought documents to Wednesday's congressional hearing to back up his case that his former boss is a 'con man' and 'a cheat.' Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: A copy of a check paid to Michael Cohen by President Trump is displayed as Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. Last year Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful excessive campaign contributions and lying to Congress as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building featuring testimony by Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, and ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building featuring testimony by Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building featuring testimony by Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: From left, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building featuring testimony by Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's former personal attorney is seen on the tv at the Fox News Headquarters in the Newscorp Building on 6th Avenue in New York February 27, 2019 as the Ticker Tap flashes headlines while he testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen, former personal lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a House Oversight Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Cohen brought documents to Wednesday's congressional hearing to back up his case that his former boss is a 'con man' and 'a cheat.' Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) listens to testimony by Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. Last year Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine for tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, unlawful excessive campaign contributions and lying to Congress as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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He described Trump’s penchant for making racial slurs against black people.

“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,” said Cohen. “I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”

According to Cohen’s testimony, he was present when Trump was personally informed by Stone, a long-time ally, that he was in communications with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange about the upcoming release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.

“In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone,” said Cohen. “Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’”

Stone, who is under indictment over charges he lied to Congress, has denied speaking directly to Assange or being involved in the email releases.

In discussing a June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and a representative of the Russian government arranged in part by Donald Trump, Jr., Cohen said the president often said his eldest song had the “worst judgment of anyone in the world.”

Cohen provided a copy of a check Trump wrote from his personal bank account after he became president to reimburse Cohen for hush money payments he made to Stormy Daniels during the campaign. He also provided copies of 2011-2013 financial statements that Trump gave to Deustche Bank and letters Cohen had written threatening academic institutions to not release his grades or SAT scores. Trump had previously called on former President Barack Obama to release his college applications and transcripts.

Cohen also said that while Trump courts white supremacists and racists, he was even worse in private.

“He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole,’” said Cohen. “This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States. While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid. And yet I continued to work for him.”

The White House has denounced Cohen’s testimony as fabrications.

"Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement Tuesday morning. “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."

Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal. He has also pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud related to the payments to Daniels. Cohen acknowledged his past lies in his opening statement and apologized.

“I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility,” said Cohen. “It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.”

In his recitation of Trump's greed, dishonesty and duplicity, Cohen summed up many of his points with the refrain, “And yet, I continued to work for him.” Cohen said he has never asked for and would never accept a pardon from Trump.

The testimony had originally been scheduled for Feb. 7 but was delayed after Cohen said he had been threatened by Trump and his allies. At the start of Wednesday’s hearing, Republicans on the panel attempted to get Cohen’s testimony postponed. Cohen testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday behind closed doors and will be doing the same with the House.

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