Michael Cohen to call Donald Trump a ‘racist’, ‘conman’ and ‘cheat’ in public hearing

Trump’s former lawyer will say US president knew that Wikileaks was about to publish leaked DNC emails

Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaving court
Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaving court

Michael Cohen is to accuse Donald Trump of being a “conman” and a “cheat” who knew that adviser Roger Stone was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, according to opening testimony he will deliver to Congress on Wednesday.

The president’s former lawyer’s prepared remarks, revealed by the New York Times, will be stated in his public testimony before the House oversight committee on Wednesday.

“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. Mr Trump put Mr Stone on the speakerphone,” Cohen’s opening statement reads.

“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.’”

The testimony is part of a special counsel investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign in Moscow.

Cohen will suggest his instructions to lie to Congress about a possible Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the 2016 campaign came from the president – albeit not directly. “In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” Cohen will say. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”

“Mr Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” he will add.

NBC News said Cohen plans to “provide evidence of alleged criminal conduct by Trump since he became president”, while the New York Times reported Cohen “will use documents and his personal experiences to support his statements”.

Cohen will appear in another closed session before the House intelligence committee on Thursday.

Ahead of the long-awaited session, Florida lawmaker Matt Gaetz on Tuesday appeared to threaten Cohen on Twitter. “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...”

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said his team would not respond to Gaetz’ allegations, “except to say we trust that his colleagues in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, will repudiate his words and his conduct”.

Cohen will be testifying under penalty of perjury but will probably be met with skepticism from Republicans who will seek to draw attention to a track record of dishonesty.

Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison in December for crimes including lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia, and facilitating illegal payments. Cohen is set to surrender on 6 May to begin his sentence, as ordered by a federal judge.

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