Former Donald Trump confidant Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony on Wednesday was already going to be a spectacle for the ages, but now it’s shaping up to be a real bombshell. Cohen will, for the first time, publicly accuse Trump of criminal conduct while in office, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday.
Citing “a person familiar with his planned testimony,” both the Journal and the Washington Post reported that Cohen will paint Trump as, in the Post’s words, “a liar, a cheater and a racist.” Two of the three committee interviews will take place behind closed doors and, per an agreement, Cohen will only take questions relating to Russia in private, according to the Post.
Cohen is also slated to testify that Trump made racist remarks about black people to him—including what the Journal described as times when he “allegedly questioned the intelligence of African-Americans and criticized their lifestyle choices”—often inflated his reported net worth, and dodged paying property taxes. He plans to make public financial statements that were crafted with Trump’s accountant, according to the Journal.
By these accounts, it’s just a sampling of what Cohen must’ve witnessed during his decade working as a Trump fixer. (He has reached a plea deal on an array of felony charges, including for his part in a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, who has alleged she had an affair with Trump.) As the Post points out, the worst of Cohen’s testimony, at least of what’s available to the public, could serve to paint Trump in a particularly ugly light:
Both intelligence committees are expected to press Cohen about how long into the 2016 presidential campaign he continued to pursue plans for a Trump Tower project in Russia. Lawmakers also are expected to ask Cohen, who was closely involved in Trump’s financial affairs, whether any foreign actors — Russian or otherwise — may have leverage over the president, his children and close associates, or their business interests.
Although topics related to Russia will be off-limits during Wednesday’s public hearing, it is possible that that testimony will have the most significant impact on Trump’s reputation, with Cohen expected to offer an unflattering, behind-the-scenes portrait of the president as a person and businessman.
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the reports in a statement to the Journal, saying Cohen was a “disgraced felon.”
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes and is expected to begin his sentence in early May. The testimony before the House Oversight Committee was already rescheduled from last month, when Cohen’s legal team said he took public statements by Trump as threats and feared for his family’s safety; Cohen had also previously rescheduled for unspecified health reasons.