Democrats in U.S. Congress take aim at Trump with multiple probes

02 March, 2019, 00:46 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Donald Trump says Michael Cohen testified there was no collusion — he did not say that

Michael Cohen, a lawyer who worked for Donald Trump for some 10 years, long before his boss came to the White House, gave testimony this week to the House Oversight Committee.

Cohen pleaded guilty previous year to lying to Congress about the Moscow project, but Schiff said he answered all of the panel's questions.

In his opening testimony, Cohen said, "questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russian Federation".

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the panel also is scheduling a March 14 public hearing with Felix Sater, an associate of Trump involved in negotiating a possible business deal in Moscow.

Committee chairman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, said his panel would further investigate issues raised by Cohen's testimony and may try to get the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., and his former accountant, Allen Weisselberg, to testify.

But while some Democrats want to haul the rest of the family in front of congressional committees, some Democrats on Oversight have cautioned that public hearings with Trump's children might not be the optimal forum to follow up on Cohen's claims.

The president did not address any of Cohen's specific, explosive allegations about his decade of working with Trump.

Cohen said there were no deals in the works, but confirmed he had been approached and was open to the idea.

"This point-Mr. Cohen's culpability for bank fraud-materially affects the Committee's assessment of his credibility", they wrote.

Cohen largely absorbed the assault without dissent, casting himself as a cautionary tale for other Trump allies. "Because they wanted it to be secret, so that they could run out and talk to all the mainstream media, who are in search of that ever-elusive collusion-conspiracy-obstruction animal", Nunes said Friday during a discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Cohen said he had no direct evidence that Trump or his campaign colluded with Moscow during the election campaign, but that he had suspicions that something untoward had occurred. Here's an example: "Nine years ago, a lawyer representing Trump Atlantic City casino creditors says he got threatening phone calls". Of these two, Donald the Trump more legally exposed: as Michael Cohen knows, it is a crime to lie to Congress.

Cohen's opening statement contained a rather remarkable claim - according to the disbarred attorney, the President conducted business in Moscow during the election because he never expected - or even seriously intended - to beat Hillary Clinton.

Sater once had an office near the future president's in Trump Tower. Trump said he tried to watch as much of Cohen's marathon hearing as he could.

Without directly mentioning Cohen's specific comments about the alleged conversation, Stone said Cohen's "statement is not true".

In the same hearing, however, Cohen also told Democrat Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz that he believes President Trump was capable of colluding with Russian Federation because he was willing to "do what is necessary" to win.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making false statements to a banking institution, one count of causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of excessive campaign contributions.

Schiff's comments came after Cohen testified before the intelligence committee behind closed doors for eight hours.

Of course, this narrative of Cohen's actions has always been discredited by the state attorney's office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), whichstressed that Cohen often exhibited an "instinct to blame others" for his illegal acts. When asked, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, a member of the intelligence panel, said Cohen appeared to be "liberated".

"My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything: my family's happiness, friendships, my law license, my company, my livelihood, my honour, my reputation and soon my freedom", Cohen said.



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