Nothing says “2019” quite like a sitting US president having dinner in Vietnam with the leader of North Korea while that same sitting president’s former fixer tells Congress that the leader of the free world engaged in porn star-related criminal activity while in office.
That surreal state of affairs (and “affairs” is a double entendre there) will become reality on Wednesday, because according to one person with knowledge of the situation, Michael Cohen will tell the House Oversight Committee that Trump engaged in criminal conduct while he was president tied to hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
And that’s not all he’ll say. “Cohen also will make public some of Trump’s private financial statements and allege that Trump at times inflated or deflated his net worth for business and personal purposes, including avoiding paying property taxes”, the Wall Street Journal reports. Specifically, Cohen will accuse Trump of using accounting gimmicks for personal gain.
Cohen starts three days worth of congressional testimony on Tuesday. He’ll deliver closed-door testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will hear it straight from the horse’s mouth when it comes to what Trump’s former confidant knows about the president’s contacts with Russia. Cohen will also discuss the hush money payments with Senators.
According to NBC, Cohen will “describe behind the scenes eyewitness and personal observation anecdotes which include lies, racism, and cheating as a private businessman when Cohen worked for [Trump]”.
Meanwhile, Reuters says Cohen will “tell US lawmakers that Trump asked him several times about a proposed skyscraper project in Moscow long after he secured the Republican presidential nomination.” That would lend further credence to the notion that Trump was knee-deep in business discussions with Russia well into his campaign, a contention Rudy Giuliani has been at pains to refute and has, at times, accidentally validated.
At one point last month, during a disastrous interview with Chuck Todd, Giuliani explicitly said the conversations went on right up until election eve. Recall this exchange:
RUDY GIULIANI: “No. It’s our understanding that it, that they went on throughout 2016, not a lot of them, but there were conversations, can’t be sure of the exact date, but the president can remember having conversations with him about it. The president also remembers …”
CHUCK TODD: “Throughout 2016?”
RUDY GIULIANI: “Yeah. Probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November. Our answers cover until the election.
Clearly, that’s not what Trump’s lawyer should be saying right now, especially not at a time when Trump’s former lawyer is running around telling anyone who will listen that the president is a criminal.
Reuters sources described Cohen’s planned public comments about Stormy Daniels as providing “granular details” regarding the hush money payments. Let’s hope there are no more “granular details” about exactly what went on with Trump and Daniels in the bedroom. The sources also said Cohen will reveal information that “has never been produced before” about Trump’s finances.
On Friday, reports indicated that Cohen met with federal prosecutors in Manhattan again last month, this time to discuss “possible irregularities within the president’s family business and about a donor to the inaugural committee.”
Obviously, there are questions about Cohen’s credibility, but then again, he’s already going to jail (in May), and it’s not entirely clear at this point why he would lie. He cannot avoid prison time and it’s not exactly like he’s got a sterling “reputation” to protect.
In any case, this is going to be some spectacle and you can bet Trump will have a lot to
say tweet about it – in between snapping selfies with Kim in Hanoi, of course.