As Michael Cohen‘s public testimony before Congress kicked off today, there was no shortage of tense exchanges. Two narratives unfolded during his questioning: one of a man who’s redeemed himself from his former life as Donald Trump‘s shady fixer, and another of a man who’s still a liar looking to fend for himself.
“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is,” Cohen said during his opening statement to the House Oversight Committee. “He is a racist, he is a conman, and he is a cheat.”
There were many bombshell disclosures, one which included copies of a $35,000 check signed by Trump — while he was president in 2017 — from his personal bank account to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to buy her silence for an alleged affair she had with Trump.
Cohen also alleged that Trump lies about his personal wealth.
“It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” Cohen said.
The main theme surrounding Cohen’s testimony was the subject of lying. Whether he was justifying his own past lying or Trump’s, he drove the point home that one of his main tasks as Trump’s fixer was to lie for him.
“Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress,” Cohen said. “That’s not how he operates. “He would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way he was telling me to lie about it.”
During one exchange, Cohen suggested that Republicans aren’t interested in getting to the truth of Trump’s alleged misdeeds, and are instead acting in a similar way Cohen acted when he was inside Trump’s inner circle.
Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked Cohen why he worked for Trump for so long if he was the reprehensible person Cohen was making him out to be. Addressing Republicans, Cohen accused them of making the same mistake he did.
“I did the same thing that you’re doing now for ten years. I protected Mr. Trump for ten years,” Cohen said. “Look what’s happened to me.”
“The more people that suffer Donald Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I did.”
You can watch Cohen’s live testimony here.
Featured image via screen grab/CNN