Trump knew of Clinton email leak, Cohen to say in his testimony

President’s former lawyer plans to say Trump knew about Roger Stone’s contact with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

US President Donald Trump‘s ex-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen  plans to accuse the former of being “a racist”, “a conman” and “a cheat” who committed “illicit acts” before Congress on Wednesday, according to a draft testimony (PDF) released by US news outlets.

Cohen, who worked for Trump from 2006 until 2018 in roles including personal lawyer, co-president of Trump Entertainment and deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, will state in the testimony that Trump committed a variety of possible crimes, including making hush payments to aid his campaign and tax fraud.

The former lawyer claims that Trump asked if he “could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘s******'”, during former President Barack Obama’s term.

Cohen also claims Trump was told by Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political consultant, that WikiLeaks was in possession of emails that “would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign”.

Trump contested Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, which saw a large trove of her emails leaked, allegedly obtained by a hacker, through WikiLeaks.

Stone is currently accused of seven crimes in relation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. These counts include obstruction of justice, making false statements and witness tampering.

Stone denies the allegations, which he calls politically motivated.

Guilty plea

Cohen pleaded guilty to charges related to the Mueller investigation in August, including tax fraud, bank fraud and eight counts of campaign finance violations, which he claims he committed at Trump’s direction.

These include a hush payment to adult film star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, to keep her from speaking about an alleged affair with Trump during the 2016 election cycle.

According to the prepared testimony, Cohen plans to produce a copy of a $35,000 cheque “that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account on August 1, 2017 – when he was President of the United States – pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea”.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s current lawyer and former mayor of New York City, has called Cohen’s prepared testimony “pathetic” in a text message to the Washington Post. 

Trump said in a Wednesday morning tweet that Cohen “did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

Cohen says he hopes his testimony before Congress, along with “my guilty plea, and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better”.

Source: Al Jazeera