Trump’s Former Lawyer To Tell Congress What We Already Know: He’s A Racist Conman

Donald Trump‘s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, plans to go absolutely ham on Trump when he publicly testifies before Congress this week, if the opening statement he released to the media is anything to go off.

Cohen served as Trump’s lawyer from 2006 through to 2018 and is due to begin a 3-year jail term in May after being convicted of lying to Congress over Trump’s business dealings in Russia, in addition to being convicted of several campaign finance violations.

In the opening remarks, which Cohen is due to deliver to the House oversight committee on Wednesday, Cohen describes Trump as a “racist“, a “cheat“, and a “conman“, who never intended to become president.

There are quite a lot of allegations here, so strap in.

Back in January, Buzzfeed broke a bombshell story in which they said that, “according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter“, Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the dealings surrounding the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Shortly afterwards, a spokesperson for the special counsel issued a statement rejecting the report, namely that their “description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by [the Special Counsel’s Office], regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony [were] not accurate.

It appears the inaccuracy in this report, according to Cohen, is that Trump did not directly tell him to lie, but that Cohen felt that he was indirectly being instructed to lie through Trump’s actions:

Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.

In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, 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.

Cohen has nothing great to say about Trump’s character, suggesting that there was nothing noble about his aspiration to be president — and going further to suggest that he never even wanted to be president:

Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.

Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”

He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity.

Cohen claims that Trump has habitually lied (shocking, I know), including about having knowledge in advance of the WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee:

In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”

He goes on to describe Trump as a racist who has courted white supremacists and bigots, citing several instances of overt racism:

He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.” This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.

While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.

And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.

He also alleges that Trump lied about his net worth for personal gain:

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.

There’s also an allegation that Trump used money from his charity to fake the purchase of a portrait of himself:

Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.

It doesn’t get any better from here. Cohen alleges that Trump directed him to intimidate his former schools to ensure they would not release his SAT scores:

When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores. As I mentioned, I’m giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission.

He also says that Trump dodged the draft for Vietnam:

Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery. He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.

He finished the conversation with the following comment. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”

I’m sure there will be a lot of interesting legal and political fallout over the things listed so far but the real icing on the cake here is Cohen seemingly confirming that the relationship between Trump and his oafish son Don Jr is exactly how I imagine it:

What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of  anyone in the world.


There’s every chance that Cohen is an opportunistic grifter who has seen the writing on the wall and decided that he could salvage his reputation and his career by going fully to the other side, but who knows if that would extend to lying to Congress again after already being convicted of it once, with jail time.

As always, though: