- Michael Cohen on Wednesday explained why he ultimately began to go against his former boss, President Donald Trump, as he testified before the House Oversight Committee.
- Cohen said, “There are several factors. Helsinki, Charlottesville, watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another, putting up with silly things like this. It’s really unbecoming of Congress.”
- Cohen warned against “blindly” following Trump amid heated exchanges with the president’s GOP allies on the committee.
- Follow along with all the updates from Cohen’s testimony here.
Michael Cohen on Wednesday offered multiple reasons why he ultimately turned on President Donald Trump a he testified before Congress.
The president’s former longtime lawyer and fixer was asked by Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee to identify “the breaking point” at which he decided to start telling the truth.
“There are several factors,” Cohen replied. “Helsinki, Charlottesville, watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another, putting up with silly things like this. It’s really unbecoming of Congress.”
He added, “I’m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you’re doing now for ten years. I protected Mr. Trump for ten years … I can only warn people the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.”
In mentioning “Helsinki,” Cohen was seemingly referencing Trump’s controversial meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, last summer in which he appeared to side with Putin over the US intelligence community on the subject of election interference. Trump faced significant criticism in Washington, including from fellow Republicans, after the meeting.
Similarly, in referencing “Charlottesville,” the president’s former lawyer on Wednesday was apparently pointing to Trump’s incendiary response to a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. At the time, Trump blamed “many sides” for the violence, which led to the death of a counterprotester. Subsequently, he was accused of being too soft on neo-Nazis and hate groups.
.@RepJimCooper: "What was the breaking point at which you decided to start telling the truth?"
Michael Cohen: "There are several factors. Helsinki. Charlottesville. Watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another."
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 27, 2019
Cohen, who will report for a three-year prison sentence in May, faced heated questioning from Trump’s GOP allies at Wednesday’s hearing.
His prison time is linked to crimes he claimed to have committed on Trump’s behalf, including payments that violated campaign finance laws to two women who said they had affairs with the president.
Cohen has also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his involvement in a plan to build Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign.
His case has placed increased scrutiny on the president in the context of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian election interference and allegations the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.
Trump has repeatedly referred to Cohen as a “liar” since his former lawyer came forth with damning allegations against the president.
Read more about Cohen’s testimony:
- Michael Cohen will testify that Trump knew Roger Stone was in touch with WikiLeaks during the election
- ‘I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is’: Michael Cohen’s bombshell opening statement before the House Oversight Committee drops hours before he is scheduled to testify
- Here are the 4 documents Michael Cohen says he gave to the House Oversight Committee that could be problematic for Trump
- Michael Cohen details hush-money payments in bombshell opening statement: ‘Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets’