- Michael Cohen testified in front of Congress on Wednesday for over seven hours.
- During this testimony, he called Trump a “racist,” a “cheat,” and a “conman.”
- He brought documents, checks and evidence to support claims he made about potential finance violations Trump may have made during his presidency and campaign.
What Happened During the Testimony?
Michael Cohen, president Donald Trump’s former lawyer, testified before Congress on Wednesday as a witness to Trump’s possible criminal conduct.
Last year, Cohen pled guilty to eight felony charges that are due to send him to prison for three years starting in May. His testimony ran over seven hours, and in the opening statements, which were also released prior to him taking the stand, Cohen called Trump “racist,” a “cheat,” and a “conman.”
Cohen Calls Trump Racist
Cohen said that he was “ashamed” to know who Trump is. He said that during Barack Obama’s presidency, Trump asked him if he “could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.”
In January of 2018, Trump also faced criticism for the use of the phrase “shithole” when discussing immigration. He allegedly asked, “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?”
Cohen then told a story about the two driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago. He claimed that Trump made derogatory remarks about the people living there.
“He commented that only black people could live that way,” Cohen said. “And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid. And yet I continued to work for him.”
Cohen Says Trump is a Cheat
Cohen then called Trump a cheat and brought documents as evidence to support his claims.
He handed in copies of financial statements from 2011 through 2013 that Trump gave to Deutsche Bank and Forbes to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills. He claimed these documents show that Trump tried to inflate his assets so he could be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and that he deflated assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
Cohen also said that while Trump claims he is under audit for his 2016 tax returns, he does not believe that Trump is under audit. He thinks Trump does not want to release his taxes because a real audit could result in penalties.
Cohen then brought a copy of an article about a portrait of Trump being auctioned, with Trump’s handwriting on it. He claimed that Trump directed him to fake a bidder to buy the portrait for $60,000 to ensure that it was the most expensive item purchased at the auction. Trump ended up keeping the portrait for himself and repaid the fake bidder with fund from the Trump Foundation, his charitable organization.
Cohen Claims Trump is a Conman
Cohen went on to call Trump a conman, and brought up the alleged affair with Stormy Daniels. He turn over a copy of a $130,000 wire transfer that went to Daniels to “maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump.”
He also turned over two checks for $35,000 each that Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr. gave him to reimburse hush money payments. Cohen said he received a total of 11 reimbursement checks while Trump was president.
“The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws,” Cohen said during the testimony.
When asked about the signatures on the second check, Cohen said that both Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg, Cheif Financial Officer to the Trump Organization, signed their names. In doing so, he is implicating Trump Jr. and Weisselberg in paying off Daniels, a campaign finance violation that he was charged with himself.
Cohen also claimed that there were numerous occasions in which Trump told him to make threats on his behalf. He said that Trump told him to threaten his former schools, colleges, and the College Board with legal action to prevent them from releasing his grades and SAT scores. He brought a letter he sent to Fordham University as proof.
He also said that over the last 10 years, Trump has asked him to threaten an individual or entity over 500 times.
Watch the full testimony here:
Harassment Allegation Shakes Up Joe Biden’s Potential Presidential Run
- Democratic Politician Lucy Flores wrote an article outlining an instance where former Vice President Joe Biden grabbed her shoulders, sniffed her hair, and kissed the back of her head without her consent.
- Biden denies ever acting inappropriately, but Flores’s story has brought new attention to his history of alleged inappropriate behavior towards women.
- Several 2020 candidates have spoken out and said that it is up to Biden to decide whether or not he wants to run after these allegations.
What Are the Accusations Against Biden?
A former Nevada politician has accused former Vice President Joe Biden of touching her inappropriately while on the campaign trail in 2014.
Lucy Flores, who was running as the Democratic Nominee for Lieutenant Governor in the state of Nevada at the time, wrote an essay for The Cut published on March 29. In her piece, she recounts a time where Biden attended a rally to help her boost voter turnout. While in the holding room, she claims she felt him grab her shoulders from behind. He then allegedly smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head.
“He leaned further in and inhaled my hair,” Flores wrote. “I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?’ He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”
After the event, she said she told her staff, but was unsure of where to turn after that.
“On the campaign trail, there’s no clear path for what to do when a powerful man crosses the line,” she said. “In politics, you shrug it off, smile for the cameras, and get back to the task of trying to win your race…I did what most women do, and moved on with my life and my work.”
However, since this happened to her, Flores says that she has only found her story to be validated via numerous reports and photos of Biden crossing the line with other women. Several viral photos have depicted him standing very close to women, touching the shoulders of and leaning into Stephanie Carter, the wife of the former Defense Secretary. Others show him kissing a senator’s wife on the lips, whispering into womens’ ears on numerous occasions, and cozying up to female constituents. She called this pattern of behavior an “open secret,” which nothing has ever come of.
It took Flores close to five years to tell her story. She was worried that, like many women, she would not be believed.
“For years I feared my experience would be dismissed,” she claimed in her essay. “Biden will be Biden. Boys will be boys. I worried about the doubts, the threats, the insults, and the minimization.”
However, the prospect of Biden making a presidential bid in 2020 was enough reason for Flores to decide to speak out, as she thought these stories needed to be a part of the conversation.
“But hearing Biden’s potential candidacy for president discussed without much talk about his troubling past as it relates to women became too much to keep bottled up any longer,” she said.
While Flores was working on her piece, The Cut reached out to Biden’s office, but they declined to comment.
However on Saturday, after the article’s release, Biden’s spokesperson Bill Russo released a statement claiming that Biden was unaware that Flores was uncomfortable with their encounter.
On Sunday, Biden followed up with another statement, which he released via Russo, saying he does not think he has ever acted improperly.
“And not once – never – did I believe I acted Inappropriately,” he wrote. “If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
On CNN’s State of the Union, Flores responded to Biden’s remarks by saying his comments were a start, but his intentions were never the issue at hand.
“I’m glad that he’s willing to listen,” she told the program’s host, Jake Tapper. “I’m glad that he’s clarifying his intentions. Frankly, my point was not about his intentions and they shouldn’t be about his intentions. It should be about the women on the receiving end of that behavior.”
Biden’s History of Behavior Towards Women
As Flores suggested in her essay, Biden behaving inappropriately with women is not a new claim. Throughout the years, several headlines have popped up, showing the former vice president touching women and standing extremely close to them.
During the event where Biden kissed a senator’s wife, a reporter says she also saw him walking around the room and calling the female relatives of politicians “beautiful” among other borderline flirty sentiments.
Back in 2015, John Stewart aired a segment about Biden, including a montage of him crossing the line when it comes to women.
Despite this, Biden’s reputation remained intact. One Politico article characterized him as a “sex symbol.” U.S. News called his behavior “Biden being Biden.”
While most of the women depicted in these viral photos and clips have not spoken out about their encounters with Biden, Stephanie Carter wrote a Medium post on March 31 addressing what happened to her. Carter was at the swearing-in of her husband Ash, the former Defense Secretary. Afterward, a picture of Biden touching her shoulders and breathing by her neck began circulating on the internet. However, Carter said she does not feel like the victim of any wrongdoing.
“The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful,” Carter wrote. “So, as the sole owner of my story, it is high time that I reclaim it — from strangers, Twitter, the pundits and the late-night hosts.”
She also added that just because her story is positive, does not mean she does not believe Lucy Flores.
“Let me state upfront that I don’t know her, but I absolutely support her right to speak her truth and she should be, like all women, believed. But her story is not mine.”
2020 Candidates Respond
This story has put Biden’s potential run for president in a new light, and many wonder if it will impact his decision to campaign for the spot.
Several candidates have spoken about the allegations, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who said she believes Lucy Flores. Prior to Biden’s statement, she also added that “Biden needs to give an answer.”
As to whether or not the former Vice President should run, she said that is for him to decide.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) gave ABC a similar statement.
“I have no reason not to believe her,” Klobuchar said. “I think we know from campaigns and politics that people raise issues and they have to address them, and that’s what he will have to do with the voters if he gets into the race.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also said it will be up to Biden whether or not he still wants to run, but added that,“I’m not sure that one incident alone disqualifies anybody.”
Trump Marks Mueller’s Report as a Win, Others Push to Make it Public
- On Friday, Mueller handed in his report as to whether or not Trump’s team colluded with Russia during the election to Attorney General William Barr, recommending no further indictments.
- In a summary on the report, Barr says that Mueller concluded that there was no collusion, but did not say one way or the other about obstruction of justice.
- Trump is counting this as a big win for himself, but Democrats want the full report released to the public.
Robert Mueller’s report concluded that President Donald Trump’s campaign did not conspire with Russia during the 2016 election.
On Friday, Special Counsel Mueller turned in his report on his two-year-long investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election to the attorney general. At the time, he recommended no additional indictments.
On Sunday, Barr released a letter to Congress that contained a four-page summary of Mueller’s report. Barr’s summary said the report was broken down into two parts, the first being Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
According to Mueller’s findings, there were two main efforts by Russia, one from the Internet Research Agency, and one from the Russuian government. The investigation has already resulted in arrests regarding both of these efforts.
The investigation did not find, however, that Trump or his colleagues aided these efforts. Barr quoted Mueller’s report, saying, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
The second part of the report centered around obstruction of justice, but the findings were not conclusive.
“The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” Barr said in his letter.
He also went on to quote the Special Counsel, which said in their report, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
So what does this mean? In their report, the Special Counsel outlined the various activities investigated, and the arguments on each side. They drew no conclusions, and instead left it up to Attorney General Barr to decide if the actions constituted as criminal behavior.
In his letter to congress, Barr said he discussed the report with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and that they “concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
What Does This Mean for Trump?
Many view this as a big win for Trump and his administration. The Special Counsel found there was no conspiracy or collusion in the campaign, and while they did not say either way if he obstructed justice, the Attorney General said there was not enough evidence, which was enough for Trump to take to Twitter to make a statement.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders went on the TODAY Show on Monday morning, backing up Trump’s comments. Anchor Savannah Guthrie asked Sanders, “Would you acknowledge that it is incorrect for the president to call this a total exoneration?”
“Not at all. It is a total and complete exoneration,” Sanders said. “And here’s why. They special counsel, they said they couldn’t make a decision one way or the other. The way that process works is that they then leave that up to the AG. The AG and the Deputy AG went through and based their decision on Mueller’s investigation.”
Push to Release the Report
On the other side, democrats are arguing that Mueller’s full report should be released.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement calling for the report to be made public, given biases the Attorney General may have.
“Attorney General Barr’s letter raises as many questions as it answers,” the statement read. “The fact that Special Counsel Mueller’s report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay. Given Mr. Barr’s public record of bias against the Special Counsel’s inquiry, he is not a neutral observer and is not in a position to make objective determinations about the report.”
Others like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris took to Twitter to demand the full report.
So will we ever get to see the report? That still remains unclear. In his letter to congress, he said the report remains confidential, but also added that he was aware of the “public interest in this matter.”
“For that reason, my goal and intent
What those laws, regulations, and policies could limit is also unclear, but material in the report is likely relevant to other investigations, or could be a security risk. So if the public were to see it, there is a good chance that there would be heavy redactions.
Many are also debating whether or not Trump would be able to use Executive Privilege to prevent the public from seeing certain parts of the report. This could include internal communications and private conversations involving the president. But right now, whether or not he could use it is up in the air. It is also unclear if he would want to, as in the past he tweeted in support of the Republicans voting for transparency regarding the report.
If the Department of Justice were to not make the report public, Representative Jerry Nadler said he would be willing to take legal action. On CNN, he said he would go so far as to take it to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Well we will try to negotiate and we will try everything else first,” said Nadler. “But if we have to, yes, we will certainly issue subpoenas to get that information.”
“And you’re going to be willing to take that up to the supreme court if you have to,” anchor Dana Bash asked.
“Absolutely,” Nadler responded.
See What Others Are Saying: (Wall Street Journal) (Washington Post) (CBS)
Trump Goes After McCain, Prompting Republicans to Go After Trump
- President Donald Trump said he was never thanked for John McCain’s funeral during a speech on Wednesday.
- Trump also said that he “never liked” the late senator.
- Many people, Republicans included, are upset by these remarks, even going so far as to call Trump “deplorable.”
What did Trump Say?
Several Republican leaders have spoken out against President Donald Trump after he claimed he was never thanked for veteran and Senator John McCain’s funeral.
“I’ve never liked him much,” Trump said of McCain, starting what ended up being a five-minute-long series of attacks against the late politician during a speech in Lima, Ohio.
During this speech, Trump brought up McCain’s choice to not vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump also criticized the work McCain did for veterans and brought up his funeral.
“And I gave him the kind of funeral he wanted,” Trump said. “Which as president, I had to approve. I don’t care about this. I didn’t get a thank you, that’s okay. We sent him on the way. But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”
When McCain passed in August of 2018, Trump approved military transport for his services in Washington D.C. However, the president was not invited to attend the services himself. McCain only extended the invitation to former presidents, asking both George W. Bush and Barack Obama to speak.
These comments are the latest in Trump’s most recent strick of attacks against McCain. On March 16 and 17, he sent out a series of tweets accusing him of spreading the intelligence dossier that contained information about his administration.
Trump claims that McCain delivered the dossier to the FBI prior to the 2016 election. However, many counter this, saying the senator did not pass the information over until after.
Republicans Speak Out
Many people have criticized the president’s remarks, accusing him of being out of line, including members of his own party.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) said on a radio show that his attacks on McCain are “deplorable.”
“It was deplorable what he said,” Isakson claimed. “That’s what called it on the floor of the Senate seven months ago. It will be deplorable seven months from now if he says it again. And I will continue to speak out.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also spoke out, and called McCain an “American hero.”
“He’s an American hero and nothing will ever diminish that,” said Graham, who has generally been supportive of Trump since his election. “I think the president’s comments about Senator McCain hurt him more than they hurt the legacy of Senator McCain.”
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah,) who has been critical of Trump in the past, called him out once again.
Former California Governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger also spoke to the Atlantic about Trump’s continued attacks on McCain, and called them unacceptable.
“An attack on him is absolutely unacceptable if he’s alive or dead,” Schwarzenegger said. “But even twice as unacceptable since he passed away a few months ago.”
Bridget McCain, the senator’s adopted daughter, who usually refrains from the public eye, also took to Twitter to condemn the president.
Other GOP leaders, like Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Sen. Martha McSally, (R-Ariz), and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) tweeted in response to the comments but did so without naming Trump. Instead, they took time to thank McCain for his work and service.
Lou Dobbs Defends Trump
While many on the right chose to defend McCain instead of Trump, some did take the side of the president. During his show on Fox Business, Lou Dobbs justified Trump’s attacks and denounced those who were criticizing them.
“Now there’s a reason for those nasty remarks,” he said. “There’s a history between those two men. And the people who were attacking him, including Mitch McConnell, attacking the president for his views on Johnn McCain is asinine.”