Cohen details ‘suspicions’ about Trump, Russia

The Associated PressPublished Wednesday, February 27, 2019 10:17AM ESTLast Updated Wednesday, February 27, 2019 11:33AM EST

WASHINGTON — The latest on U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen (all times local).

11:17 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, says he doesn’t know whether Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election, but he has « suspicions » about that.

Cohen tells a House committee that he witnessed instances before the election in which Trump was informed about WikiLeaks’ release of Democratic National Committee emails and about a Trump Tower meeting that included campaign advisers, Trump’s oldest son and a Russian lawyer.

Cohen says Trump had told him that the younger Trump « had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. »

Cohen also said Donald Trump Jr. « would never set up any meeting of any significance alone — and certainly not without checking with his father. »

Cohen has turned on his former boss and co-operated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Cohen begins a three-year prison sentence in May.

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11:15 a.m.

« Not true. »

That’s the word from Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, in response to a claim by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Cohen has testified to a House committee that Stone told Trump that the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks planned to release emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen says Stone told Trump in July 2016 that Stone had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange, who run WikiLeaks, and that there would be a « massive dump » of emails harmful to the Clinton campaign.

Cohen’s allegation would contradict the president’s assertions that he was in the dark on this issue.

It’s not immediately clear what evidence Cohen has to support the allegation or how legally problematic the claim it might be for Trump.

Stone has pleaded not guilty to witness tampering and obstruction in Mueller’s investigation

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11:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s former lawyer is apologizing to Congress and the American people for, in his words, « actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most. »

Michael Cohen is also apologizing to lawmakers for lying to Congress in 2017. Cohen pleaded guilty to that lying, among other offences, and is headed to prison in May.

Cohen tells a House committee that « it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong. »

11 a.m.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says he wouldn’t accept a pardon from the president and he didn’t ask for one.

Cohen is testifying under oath before the House Oversight and Reform Committee — and has said that Trump instructed him to pay off women who said they’d had affairs with the president. Trump has denied the claims.

For more than a decade, Cohen was a key power player in the Trump Organization and a fixture in Trump’s political life.

Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May after pleading guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 and committing campaign finance violations while he was working for Trump.

Cohen says he’s speaking before the committee to set the record straight and try to atone for some of his mistakes.

10:55 a.m.

The president’s former personal lawyer says Donald Trump lied about his wealth to look richer to Forbes magazine and less wealthy for tax authorities.

Michael Cohen is testifying under oath before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Cohen says financial documents show Trump inflated his assets to rank higher on the Forbes world’s billionaires list. Trump ranked 766th on the publication’s latest list, which was released last March.

Cohen claims Trump would also deflate his assets to pay lower real estate taxes.

Democrats have promised an aggressive effort to investigate the president since they regained control of the House in January.

For more than a decade, Cohen was a key power player in the Trump Organization and a fixture in Trump’s political life.

Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May after pleading guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 and committing campaign finance violations while he was working for Trump.

10:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is accusing Trump of being a « racist. »

Testifying under oath before a House committee, Cohen says he heard Trump say that black people « would never vote for him because they were too stupid. »

Cohen says that when he and Trump were driving through a « struggling neighbourhood » in Chicago, Trump said that « only black people could live that way. »

Trump has denied charges of racism before, and has said, « I’ve never used racist remarks. »

For more than a decade, Cohen was a key power player in the Trump Organization and a fixture in Trump’s political life.

Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May after pleading guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 and committing campaign finance violations while he was working for Trump.

10:30 a.m.

The president’s former personal lawyer claims Donald Trump was told in advance that WikiLeaks planned to release emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House campaign.

That’s what Michael Cohen is telling the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

In his prepared testimony, Cohen says he was in Trump’s office in 2016 when Trump adviser Roger Stone called.

Cohen says Stone told Trump that Stone had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange, who run the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks group, and that there would be a « massive dump » of emails harmful to the Clinton campaign.

Cohen’s allegation would contradict the president’s assertions that he was in the dark on this issue.

It’s not immediately clear what evidence Cohen has to support the allegation or how legally problematic this claim it might be for Trump.

Special counsel Robert Mueller hasn’t suggested that merely being aware of WikiLeaks’ plans is by itself a crime.

Stone has pleaded not guilty to witness tampering and obstruction in Mueller’s investigation.

10:20 a.m.

As soon as the House hearing involving President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, got underway, a key Republican lawmaker claimed that the committee was violating its own rules.

Rep. Mark Meadows, a top Trump ally, said Cohen was showing « disdain » for the committee process by failing to submit his prepared remarks ahead of time.

Meadows claimed it was an intentional « violation of the rules. »

Cohen’s much-anticipated testimony was received by the committee the night before Wednesday’s session, according to the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

Meadows made a motion to postpone the hearing. Lawmakers quickly voted to reject the motion and the hearing resumed.

10:15 a.m.

A Democratic member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee says that restrictions on questions about Russia have been lifted when the committee questions Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer.

Just before the hearing began, Rep. Gerry Connolly said he’d discussed the issue with the committee’s leadership. The Virginia congressman said previous limits on questions about Russia were « null and void » because Cohen mentioned the issue in his opening statement.

The committee chairman had issued a memo outlining the scope of the hearing, and it didn’t include questions about Russia. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings had said that he didn’t want to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

10 a.m.

A congressional hearing is underway featuring the much-anticipated public testimony from Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.

Cohen is expected to detail before the House Oversight and Reform Committee what he believes is Trump’s lying, racism and cheating, and possibly even criminal conduct.

Cohen, who was Trump’s longtime fixer, is the first high-profile witness called before the committee as newly empowered Democrats pursue an aggressive effort to investigate the president.

Cohen played a pivotal role in buying the silence of a porn actress and a former Playboy Playmate who both alleged they had sex with Trump. The president has denied their claims.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations connected to the payments and to lying to Congress.

He’s set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.

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4:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is lashing out at his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, before Cohen testifies at a public hearing.

Trump is distancing himself from Cohen in a tweet from Hanoi, Vietnam, where he has travelled for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump insists Cohen was just « one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). » He also says Cohen « had other clients also » and « did bad things unrelated to Trump. »

Cohen plans to tell a House committee on Wednesday that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and that Trump is a « racist, » a « conman » and a « cheat. » That’s according to prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a project in Russia. Trump accuses Cohen of now lying to reduce his prison sentence.

Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2019

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2:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer is planning to tell a House committee that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press, Michael Cohen says that Trump implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project.

And the former Trump fixer brands his old boss a « racist, » a « conman » and a « cheat. »

On the matter of racism, Cohen says the president made racist comments « disparaging African-Americans, saying at one point that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid. »

Ahead of his appearance, Cohen said Tuesday that the American people can decide « exactly who is telling the truth » when he testifies Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform committee.

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