Cohen to testify Trump knew Stone reached out to WikiLeaks

Posted at 12:38 AM, Feb 27, 2019

Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is prepared to testify that Trump was aware of longtime adviser Roger Stone's efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks in advance of its release of damaging information about Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, according to a copy of his public testimony submitted to Congress and obtained by CNN.

In a stunning 20-page statement provided Tuesday night to lawmakers, Cohen details a wide range of allegations against Trump -- from making racist comments about African-Americans to participating during his presidency in an illegal hush-money scheme to keep his alleged extramarital affairs quiet -- as well as suggesting Trump faked a medical condition to get out of serving in the Vietnam War.

And Cohen will provide new details saying Trump was engaged in an aggressive pursuit of a major project in Russia in 2016, alleging the President's attorneys edited Cohen's 2017 testimony when he lied to Congress, downplaying the efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

He says Trump never directly ordered him to lie to Congress but he believed he was carrying out an order given his interactions with Trump, who was making public statements about not having any business dealings with Russia.

In short, Cohen calls Trump a "racist," a "conman" and a "cheat."

In the testimony, Cohen will allege that, in 2016, he witnessed Trump taking a phone call from Stone, who was on 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," Cohen will say, according to his prepared testimony.

Trump responded, according to Cohen: "Wouldn't that be great."

Cohen's allegations, if true, would amount to the first time anyone with direct knowledge has said that the President had advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks dump of Clinton emails. Cohen also said the President's personal lawyers "reviewed and edited" his 2017 statements when Cohen lied to Congress about the Trump Organization's pursuit of a massive project in Moscow.

Stone -- who has been indicted on charges of making false statements, witness tampering and obstructing justice -- has denied discussing the matter with Trump or having any such interactions with WikiLeaks. He is fighting his charges in court.

Cohen's opening statement also suggests that Trump may have been aware in advance of a 2016 meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. and Russians at Trump Tower -- something that Trump and his eldest son have long denied. Cohen will tell Congress that he witnessed Trump Jr., in June 2016, tell his father: "The meeting is all set."

Cohen acknowledges not knowing for sure that Trump's son's comments were in reference to the meeting with Russians.

"I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump's knowledge and approval," Cohen will say. "So I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary."

The White House has attacked Cohen's credibility, calling him someone who cannot be trusted given he has already pleaded guilty to lying.

When asked for comment on Cohen's prepared testimony, the White House referred to press secretary Sarah Sanders' Tuesday statement on Cohen's testimony.

"Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements," Sanders said in that statement. "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."

According to a copy of the opening statement he prepares to deliver to the House Oversight Committee Wednesday, Cohen says Trump lied repeatedly about a number of matters -- and made a host of racist statements.

He also provides new details suggesting Trump was heavily involved in the pursuit of the Trump Tower Moscow project in 2016.

"To be clear, Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Tower negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it," Cohen will tell the committee. "He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project."

Cohen says that Trump did not "directly" tell him to lie to Congress. "That's not how he operates," Cohen says.

But he says that Trump would tell him and the public he has "no business" with Russia, even as he was negotiating the Moscow project.

"In his way, he was telling me to lie," Cohen says.

Cohen also says he's providing the panel with several documents to back up his allegations, including a check Trump wrote from his bank account to reimburse him for hush money payments to silence Stormy Daniels' story in 2016 about her alleged affair with Trump. Trump denies having an affair with Daniels.

But in the testimony, Cohen recounts how he was visiting Trump in February 2017 in the White House when the President assured him his reimbursement checks were coming in the mail. He said Trump made 11 payments of $35,000 each to reimburse him in the hush-money scheme, saying he's providing the House panel with a copy of an August 2017 check signed by the President from his personal bank account.

"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," Cohen will say.

Cohen also says he's providing the committee with copies of letters he wrote threatening Trump's high school, college and the College Board not to release his grades or test scores.

Moreover, Cohen says he has documentation showing Trump arranging a bidder at an auction to purchase a portrait of himself, which he later reimbursed the bidder for from his charitable organization.

And he provides information about Trump's decision to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. Cohen was directed to avoid answering reporters' questions about the matter, he will say. Trump, who has long claimed his deferment was due to a bone spur, had no medical records to provide because there was no surgery, Cohen said.

"You think I'm stupid, I wasn't going to Vietnam," Cohen recalls Trump as saying.

In jarring testimony, Cohen also says Trump repeatedly made racist comments about African-Americans. While driving through a poor neighborhood in Chicago, Trump allegedly told Cohen that "only black people could live that way."

Cohen added that Trump said that African-Americans "would never vote for him because they were too stupid."