Given that every major news outlet is reporting pretty much the same story, it is obvious that someone with intimate knowledge of what Michael Cohen plans to say during his testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday has been busy talking to the press.
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, will for the first time publicly accuse the president of criminal conduct while in office related to a hush-money payment to a porn star, a person familiar with his planned testimony before Congress said.
Appearing on Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee, Mr. Cohen also will make public some of Mr. Trump’s private financial statements and allege that Mr. Trump at times inflated or deflated his net worth for business and personal purposes, including avoiding paying property taxes, the person said…
Mr. Cohen’s testimony is expected to focus on his “behind-the-scenes” accounts of working for Mr. Trump for over a decade, a period during which Mr. Cohen will say he witnessed “lies, racism and cheating” by Mr. Trump, the person said.
Mr. Cohen is expected to recount racist remarks Mr. Trump allegedly made to him, including instances in which Mr. Trump allegedly questioned the intelligence of African-Americans and criticized their lifestyle choices, the person said.
According to Maggie Haberman, “Mr. Trump and his allies have been preparing for days for Mr. Cohen’s testimony.” In other words, they’ve been preparing talking points for Republicans on the committee to rely on during their questioning of Cohen. Sarah Huckabee Sanders teed up what those will look like.
“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” Huckabee Sanders said in a statement sent to Newsweek on Tuesday.
“Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same,” the White House press secretary said. “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.”
But apparently Cohen plans to bring receipts.
The person briefed on Mr. Cohen’s plans said he is planning to bring documents that will illustrate his claims. The person familiar with the plans indicated that Mr. Cohen will present other documents beyond the financial statements, but the person did not specify what those might be. The documents will be shared in a way for the viewing public to see them, the person said.
One thing to watch for in Wednesday’s hearing will be how far Republicans on the committee are prepared to go to intimidate and/or discredit Cohen. Representatives Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows tipped their hand about that in an op-ed they wrote for USA Today.
When Cohen comes to testify, Republican members plan to ask about the crimes he pleaded guilty to, other criminal activity he participated in but refused to disclose, his international financial dealings and a long list of other shady activities.
It is true, Michael Cohen has a history of shady dealings, coupled with a host of connections to the Russian mafia. You might recall that Cohen was originally scheduled to testify before this committee on February 7th. He cancelled that appearance, suggesting that it was in reaction to references to Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, coming from Trump and his legal team. As Josh Marshall noted, “Don’t forget that Cohen probably got his 3 yr jail term because he wldn’t turn on his father-in-law. And the father-in-law used to be in business with Trump.” This is an area that could be a quagmire for Cohen if Republicans start digging. But it could also implicate the president.
That’s pretty much what we know heading into Wednesday’s hearing. We’ll be doing live updates here at Political Animal as it unfolds, so be sure to tune in and follow along.