The major broadcast television networks will air live coverage Wednesday of the Democrat-led House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen who has turned on his former client since being targeted by federal prosecutors. The cable news networks will also carry the hearing live in which Cohen will reportedly say of President Trump, “He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”
The Cohen hearing comes as President Donald Trump is in Vietnam for a crucial summit with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un–and the day after news broke Cohen was being disbarred for lying as he was testifying behind closed doors before the the Senate Intelligence Committee. Cohen is set to appear Thursday for a closed door session with the House Intelligence Committee.
…A multipage document filed by Manhattan’s Attorney Grievance Committee that details why Cohen should no longer be permitted to practice in the state of New York was officially entered into the record late Tuesday afternoon.
In the state court filing, the Grievance Committee said, “The Committee contends that respondent was automatically disbarred because respondent’s conviction under 18 USC § 1001(a)(2) (making false statements to the U.S. Congress), if committed in New York, would constitute the felony of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.”
Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts in federal court in August 2018, and then pleaded guilty in November 2018 to lying to Congress. His disbarment is retroactive to his November plea.
CNN reported on the decision by the broadcast networks.
The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd will anchor live coverage on NBC starting at 9:45 a.m. George Stephanopoulos will lead ABC’s coverage. Norah O’Donnell will anchor on CBS. And Fox News will offer an optional special report to Fox’s broadcast stations.
The broadcast networks will roll with the hearing for several hours. The cable newsers will be wall-to-wall…”
Meanwhile, Politico published Cohen’s prepared opening statement.
Committee Chairman: And where were you born?
Pentangeli: Par Panico — it’s outside of Palermo.
Committee Chairman: And where do you live now?
Pentangeli: I live in an army barracks with the FBI guys.
Committee Chairman: We have here finally a witness that will further testify to Michael Corleone’s rule over a criminal empire that controls all of the gambling in this country and perhaps in other countries. This witness has had no buffer between himself and Michael Corleone. He can corroborate our charges on enough counts for this committee to recommend a charge of perjury against Michael Corleone.
…Committee Chairman: We have a sworn affidavit — we have it — your sworn affidavit that you murdered on the orders of Michael Corleone. Do you deny that confession, and do you realize what will happen as a result of your denial?
Pentangeli: Look, the FBI guys, they promised me a deal. So, so I made up a lot of stuff about Michael Corleone ’cause that’s what they wanted. But it was all lies. Uh, everything. And I kept saying Michael Corleone did this and Michael Corleone did that. So, I said yeah sure — why not?
Sorry, wrong script. Excerpt’s from the Politico version (much more at the link.):
…I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.
…Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would
often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”
He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity.”
…A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.
As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails. 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. 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.”
Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”
In private, he is even worse.
He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.” This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.
…Mr. Trump is a conman.
He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly – and she did not deserve that.
I am giving the Committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to Ms. Clifford’s attorney during the closing days of the presidential campaign that was demanded by Ms. Clifford to maintain her silence about
her affair with Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 4 to my testimony.
Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too – without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public. I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.
As Exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account on August 1, 2017 – when he was President of the United States – pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr. Trump’s TV lawyer — for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year – while he was President.
The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr. Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
…When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.
As I mentioned, I’m giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without
his permission. These are Exhibit 6.
The irony wasn’t lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared “Let him show his records” after calling
President Obama “a terrible student.”
…During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be “a hero” because he likes people who weren’t captured. At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to
handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.
Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.
He finished the conversation with the following comment. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.
And yet, I continued to work for him
Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions…
Over the past year or so, I have done some real soul searching. I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions I made.
To you, Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, the other members of this Committee, and the other members of the House and Senate, I am sorry for my lies and for lying to Congress.
To our nation, I am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most.
For those who question my motives for being here today, I understand. I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things, but I am no longer your “fixer,” Mr. Trump.
And, by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the President and his lawyer – trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel. Mr. Trump called me a “rat” for choosing
to tell the truth – much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.
…I wish to especially thank Speaker Pelosi for her statements in Exhibit 9 to protect this institution and me, and the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff and Chairman Cummings for
likewise defending this institution and my family against the attacks by Mr. Trump, and also the many Republicans who have admonished the President as well.
I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life. But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.
Thank you for your attention. I am happy to answer the Committee’s questions.