President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen delivered a devastating testimony against him on Wednesday, alleging complicity in collusion, misconduct, financial manipulation and infidelity.
“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat,” Cohen said in front of the House Oversight Committee.
Cohen testified that Trump paid him hush money to cover up the president’s affair with porn star Stormy Daniels and knew the website WikiLeaks was planning to release hacked emails against Hillary Clinton. Cohen also provided copies of documents, checks and screenshots implicating the president’s involvement in these activities.
Cohen’s testimony reminded SF State political science professor Rebecca Eissler of President Richard Nixon’s 1972 Watergate scandal where former President Nixon was impeached and found guilty of stealing important documents and wiretapping phones.
“A day like today is really significant because it echoes back to what we saw unfold under Watergate,” Eissler said. “One of the things that was notable in the lead up to President Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal is when attorney John Dean finally went before Congress and told them [with tape proof] what the president had done and that [moment] was an important step along the way.”
Cohen said he helped Trump inflate and deflate finances and threatened at least 500 people in the 10 years he worked for him.
“Over the past two years I have been smeared as a rat by the President of the United States,” Cohen said. “The truth is much different.”
Cohen presented multiple checks signed by Trump that he said were payments to remain silent about Trump’s activities.
Cohen said he was unsure if Trump is being audited, which is the reason why he never released his tax returns during the 2016 election.
During his time as the president’s fixer, a person who makes arrangements for other people, Cohen said he had personal funds that could not be traced from a home equity line to make payments to the adult film actress Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal, the women accused of having an affair with Trump.
Cohen provided proof of a letter sent to Trump’s high school and universities threatening not to release his academic records including his grades and SAT scores.
“It’s hard to know [what will happen from here] –congressional investigations move at their own pace,” said Professor Eisser. “We know from history with Watergate that it took both House and Senate investigations and hearings before there was enough information and support for articles of impeachment. We really have no idea what the timeline is and in so many ways it is too early to tell.”