Testimony of Michael D. Cohen
Committee On Oversight And Reform
U.S. House Of Representatives
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You may have heard Michael Cohen’s testimony or parts of it or maybe you missed it. Below are audio files of the hearing - complete hearing, gavel to gavel, in four downloadable mp3 audio files. It might also be interesting to know who the Representatives are and what they said or asked of Michael Cohen. Therefore, below the audio files there is a section of notes on each of the members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and notes from the hearing. All information on the Representatives was from Wikipedia. Below the notes is the transcript of Michael Cohen’s statement.
As a preface to the hearing, please listen to the clips in the following video. This is Lesley Stahl in a discussion with Marc Maron of the WTF podcast. Lesley Stahl interviewed Donald Trump three days after the 2016 election and covered Watergate in the 1970’s. She talks about both here. Watergate is not the same as what is happening today, but there are parallels. Note the comment about “Deep Throat” and the strong impression she had when interviewing Trump after the election which matches a segment of Cohen’s testimony.
The final hour of the hearing, includes the newer members of the committee as they were called in order of seniority. Notice how the republican representatives interrupted them with personal requests. It also includes Elijah Cummings’ closing remarks.
Notes from the hearing
|1||D-MD||Elijah Cummings||Chair, House Oversight and Reform Committee. Elijah Cummings will be remembered for his closing remarks at this hearing.|
|2||R-OH||Jackass Jim Jordan||Jackass Jim Jordan is a former wrestling coach.
“Former 1980s Ohio State wrestler David Range said teammates spoke of Strauss’ behavior often in the locker room while Jordan was present. A nurse who worked with the team was interviewed on video by Politico and confirmed observing Strauss fondling a team member until the athlete ejaculated. Another Ohio wrestler, Dunyasha Yetts, told Politico he had asked both Jordan and Hellickson to be present for an examination with Strauss, to avoid inappropriate touching by Strauss. That allegation was denied by Jordan’s office. One former wrestler said that he saw Jordan kick a male voyeur out of the wrestlers’ sauna, though that would suggest that Jordan was aware that there was a problem – something he has to date denied.” Jackass Jordan accused CNN of “asking for dirt” while there remained multiple statements by others contradicting his denials.
Former colleague, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, said, “Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator … A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.”
* wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act
* “nothing comes to mind” regarding Trump’s lies
* first to sign “No Climate Tax” pledge
* voted to open Outer Continental Shelf oil drilling
* voted against limits of global warming pollution and incentives for renewable energy
* against Planned Parenthood
* wanted to disband the Mueller investigation
* wanted to create a second special counsel to investigate the special counsel
If this man was a dog he’d have been euthanized by now.
Several times during the proceedings Jackass Jim Jordan interrupted others and least eight Republicans on the committee yielded some of their time back to Jackass Jim Jordan to continue his attack of witness Michael Cohen.
|3||D-FL||Debbie Wasserman-Schultz||Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was the chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2011 to 2016 when the Wikileaks email hacks revealed her disparaging remarks about Bernie Sanders, after which she was honorary chair of Hilary Clinton;s campaign. In 2016 Michael Cohen was vice-chair of the Republican National Committee.|
|4||R-TN||Mark Green||Mark Green, a physician, believes there is a connection between a rise in autism and preservatives in vaccines, asserts that the Centers for Disease Control “maybe fraudulently managed” data on vaccines.
Donald Trump nominated Mark Green for Secretary of the Army, but Green withdrew his nomination.
Green believes his duty is to crush evil which includes preventing transgender people from entering a restroom not of their birth gender.
Green believes a “child becomes a child at conception.”
Yields to Jackass Jordan.
|5||D-NY||Caroline Maloney||Caroline Maloney believes there is a link between vaccines and autism.
Among members of the House of Representatives Maloney has the ninth highest amount of investment in oil stocks.
Maloney wanted a firearm liability insurance, but experts said criminal activity and suicides, 97 per cent of firearm deaths, do not fall under liability policies. Did no one mention that those policies could be changed or amended?
|6||R-KY||James Comer||Comer supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Yields to Jackass Jim Jordan.|
|7||D-DC||Eleanor Holmes-Norton||Clarifies information about the National Enquirer. Cohen mentions the Billy Bush tape. The $130,000 was not a negotiation, it was a number that was told to Cohen.|
|8||R-NC||Mark Meadows||Mark Meadows wanted to be Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff. He claims to have met with and spoken with Trump over 300 times. in 2016 he gave Donald Trump a wish list of regulations he wanted repealed including several environmental regulations and federal funding to study climate change, pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
In a Vanity Fair article, published October 30, 2017, John Boehner, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, said of Meadows: “He’s an idiot. I can’t tell you what makes him tick.”
Mark Meadows’ presentation of “Lynne Patton” a black woman who we do not hear from or know what her statement contains, caused a flare up later in the testimony. I agree with the two women who later spoke up regarding Patton’s presence. I was only listening to the hearing at first and thought how inappropriate Patton’s presentation was. Later reviewing the video, we see that Lynne Patton is a young black woman with long blonde streaked hair. Mark Meadows requests that Patton’s “statement” be “part of the record”. The flare up begins when Meadows requests that Tlaib’s statement, which sounded like an accusation of racism, be stricken from the record. The flare up was peacefully resolved be Chairman Cummings and Meadows retracts his request to strike Tlaib’s statement.
Meadows says he is not a racist, but in 2012 Mark Meadows said, “2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is.”
Mark Meadows was fined $40,625 by the House Committee on Ethics for salary paid, $58,125, to an aide, West, who was essentially dismissed to separate West from female staffers, due to allegations of sexual harassment while West retained his title and “apparent authority over staff”which Meadows called “immediate and appropriate steps” .
Meadows led the chant “Lock her up” at the Republican National Convention.
Meadows is opposed to same-sex marriage, saying it would cause a constitutional crisis. He says he is not a racist because he has nieces and nephews who are people of color; he is opposed to same-sex marriage because he does not know of any relatives who are gay, he wants to get rid of “Obamacare” but keep coverage for pre-existing conditions because he does have relatives with pre-existing conditions.
Meadows opposes any restrictions on gun purchases. I guess that is because no one has shot him or any of his relatives.
Meadows opposes all net neutrality regulations.
Meadows wants to eliminate estate tax. He believes public works projects should be allowed to pay workers less than prevailing wages (originally intended to protect black workers traveling north). How does this man say he is not a racist?
He ends his minutes in this session with, “but he’s under oath!”
|9||D-MO||Lacey Clay||Famous words: “In my view we are all here for just one reason and that’s the American people are tired of being lied to, they have been lied to by President Trump, they have been lied to by president’s children, they have been lied to by president’s legal representatives, and it pains me to say that they have been even lied to by his congressional enablers who are still devoted to perpetuating and protecting this giant con game on the American people.”|
|10||R-GA||Jody Hice||Hice has argued that Christians have been “tricked” into a “false belief” in the separation of church and state. How does someone like that get admitted to public office in the United States with ideas like that, someone who does not know how the country was founded? Immigrants must pass a test of familiarity with the Constitution to become a citizen, but Republicans do not need to know any thing about it.
Hice is opposed to gay marriage, is opposed to a ban on conversion therapy, and believes that homosexuality is like alcoholism. Hence it can be inferred that Jody Hice tried it and didn’t like the taste. Abstinence does not make you straight, Mr. Hice, also note that Dr. Strauss, the inappropriately hands-on man in question during Jackass Jim Jordan’s wrestling coach years, committed suicide in 2013.
Hice believes a woman must be “within the authority of her husband” to run for office.
|11||D-MA||Steven Lynch||Republicans: “Your side ran away from the truth.”
Steven Lynch is an old-fashioned kind of guy, but he did ok here. He represents an area of the world nearly identical to Will Hunting’s neighborhood in the movie, Good Will Hunting.
|12||R-AZ||Paul Gosar||Paul Gosar, a dentist, had nothing to say other than delivering sadistic and humiliating comments to Cohen.
Gosar admitted playing with his cell phone during the testimony, talked about texts he’s received. Yields to Jackass Jim Jordan, yelling and screaming ensues, yields back to Gosar. Paul Gosar sounded like an adolescent envious of Cohen.
Paul Gosar lied about the reason he withdrew from a debate his 2010 campaign, telling two different stories; he told the tv station he was attending a fundraiser (false) and in a public statement said it was because of the long drive.
In 2012 Gosar bought a second home so he could run in a newly created district as his original district became less favorable to Republicans.
Paul Gosar was publicly rejected by his family in 2018.
Gosar wanted to impeach the EPA administrator in 2015, but the resolution was declared to have “zero merit.”
Gosar was the only member of Congress not to attend Pope Francis’s address in 2015.
Gosar promoted a conspiracy theory about the 2017 Charlottesville rally saying that it was a left-wing plot to stoke racial discord and to undermine President Donald Trump.
On January 30, 2017, Gosar introduced House Joint resolution 46, which would repeal the authority of the National Park Service to decline private drilling for oil, gas and minerals in 40 U.S. National Parks if the Park Service determines that the mining operation would threaten the environment.
|13||D-TN||Jim Cooper||Asks Cohen to offer advice to young lawyers. When Cohen says, “silly things like this,” he is referring to signs people are holding that say, “liar, liar, pants on fire.”
“Working in this Congress is deeply frustrating. My colleagues are misbehaving. They’re posturing for voters back home. They’re taking the cheap political hit instead of studying the problem that’s before us.” (Cooper, 2011)
|14||R-NC||Virginia Foxx||Virginia Foxx has degrees in English and teaching. She knew how to screw up her first question and then say Cohen was lying. Listen and hear how she did that and deny it. The curve ball question at the end was, “Will you commit that you won’t run for office in New York?” Cohen says, “No.”|
|15||D-VA||Gerry Conneley||Conneley discusses the behavior of the Republicans. Congress has always depended on testimony from shady characters. The White House made one mistake, a note requesting Cohen to a meeting.
Conneley opposes concealed weapons in schools and on college campuses.
|16||R-KY||Thomas Massie||Thomas Massie wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, dismantle the Environmental Protection Act, and dismantle to Department of Education.
Yields time to Higgins: Where are those boxes?
|17||D-IL||Raja Krishnamoorthi||Raja Krishnamoorthi asks about how Donald Trump uses NDAs to silence people with broad, unenforceable NDAs, and at times non-existent NDAs.
Following reports that Donald Trump consulted senior aides and White House counsel about the president’s ability to pardon associates, family members, and the president himself, Krishnamoorthi introduced the Presidential Pardon Transparency Act.
Krishnamoorthi questioned the director of NBIB about security clearances. This is still being investigated.
Krishnamoorthi questioned postal services delays that caused hundreds of DACA renewal applications to arrive late.
|18||R-TN||Michael Cloud||Asks Cohen to repeat his convictions, again. Michael Cloud believes Cohen wanted a job in the White House, although Cohen denied this several times already.
Michael Cloud yields to Mark Meadows: “He’s under oath!” Back to foreign entities regarding a check mark on the truth in testimony form.
|19||D-MD||Jaime Raskin||Famous words: “That Trump did not expect to win the 2016 election ‛may be the most trenchant observation in your testimony.‛ ”
Jaime Raskin asks for explanation of “catch and kill” operations.
Donald Trump denied knowing Felix Sater (convicted felon, Russian mobster, and real estate developer) though Sater had an office on the same (26th) floor as Trump’s office.
|20||R-WI||Glenn Grothman||Glenn Grothman is sixty-four years old (in 2019), never married, and lives with his mother.
Believes that Trump did expect to win the 2016 election.
Thinks that Cohen may get further reduction in sentence for his testimony.
Yields to Jackass Jim Jordan who yields to Meadows who yells about foreign entities again.
Grothman rejects supporting pre-K programs, advocates concealed carry gun laws, rejects equal pay saying that money is more important to men, Grothman believes sex education contains an agenda to persuade kids to become gay. Grothman rejects Kwanza and MLK Jr. holidays, municipal water chlorination, single parenthood, anti-smoking programs, however he supports decriminalizing raw milk sales.
|21||D-CA||Harley Rouda||Donald Trump denied knowing Felix Sater (convicted Russian mobster, felon, and real estate developer) though Sater had an office on the same (26th) floor as Trump’s office. Mr. Sater was not able to provide proof that somebody owned or controlled the property that Trump could build on.|
|22||R-MI||Justin Amash||If all Republicans were like Justin Amash the world would be a happier place. He is disagreeable on energy and environmental issues, but I think someone could sit with him and explain that the government has supported subsides for decades, and been complicit in contributing to current environmental conditions, he might come around to seeing that the federal government has some responsibility in helping to clean it up.|
|23||D-CA||Katie Hill||Clarifies the “foreign entities” problem on the truth in testimony form.
Purple district. Concerned with law of the land and hopes the president has not committed crimes.
Foreign entities clarification; this comes up again later and becomes a big deal with Jackass Jordan demands all Cohen’s contracts whether or not he checks the box on foreign entities. Another time wasting tactic by Jackass Jordan.
|24||R-OH||Bob Gibbs||Gibbs is sad that the president is across the Pacific Ocean while this hearing is taking place. Reads Cohen’s convictions again. Wants to know if Cohen will gain favors for his testimony. Yields to Jackass Jim Jordan who is surprised to learn that Cohen started Trump’s campaign for president.|
|25||D-MD||John Sarbanes||Sees that Cohen has more to lose for his testimony including threats to his family. Asks about edits made by the White House on Cohen’s original testimony - the joint defense, stay on the goal to tow the line, false testimony or not. States that Cohen’s statements are consistent with what we are seeing every day. Asks about the inauguration hotel pricing, the upcharging.|
|26||R-LA||Clay Higgins||“Where are these boxes?” Does not let Cohen answer but demands to have them all seized by the committee, doesn’t acknowledge that everything had already been seized and returned to Cohen by the FBI. Compares Cohen with “many men I’ve arrested”. Wants to know about Cohen’s television deal;. Higgins wants to know about this because Higgins himself is a youtube star, as he sees it. Keeps asking about the job in the White House which was covered in detail already.
Yields to Jackass Jordan.
During Higgins’ campaign it was revealed that he owed $140,000 in unpaid child support. He said it was because he had requested a lower amount that was not settled. What about the children?
Higgins opposes same sex marriage, supported Trump’s travel restrictions, says gun laws are a modern hysteria and that until 50 years ago a child could buy a gun if daddy sent him with the money.
Higgins sleeps in his congressional office. Does his 4th wife hsve conjugal visits?
As a police officer Clay Higgins used unnecessary force and gave false statement during an internal investigation; he resigned this job before disciplinary action could be taken. He next worked as sheriff and made “Crime Stoppers” videos in which he made personal comments, named suspects and told them to surrender, used disrespectful and demeaning language, used his uniform and badge inappropriately including to profit from it selling t-shirts and shot glasses, used the sheriff’s department address for his LLC, negotiated paid appearances with other police departments, and used his uniform and badge to make commercials for businesses. He resigned from that job as well. In his speaking appearances he requested shopping money for his wife, fuel for a friend’s plane and cash payment in order to avoid garnishment of his wages for unpaid taxes. He is now a Reserve Duty Marshall in addition to his House of Representatives seat.
|27||D-VT||Peter Welch||Trump lied about his awareness of the Wikileaks email dump. During the 2016 campaign Trump stated: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you’re able to find Hilary’s emails that are missing.”
David Pecker expended funds on Donald Trump’s behalf. Pecker paid the $15,000 for the elevator story about a love child. Pecker was CEO of AMI dba National Enquirer, was looking to be CEO of Time magazine.
|28||R-SC||Ralph Norman||Reads Cohen’s crimes admissions again. Accuses Cohen of wiretapping Donald Trump. Accuses Cohen of causing losses to banks. Asks Cohen if he’d ever been to Prague.|
|29||D-CA||Jackie Speier||Sater suggests Trump offer a penthouse apartment to Putin. Cohen says this was a marketing stunt. Asks for Cohen’s recordings. Cohen agrees to provide the ecordings and this becomes a point for a Republican to criticize Cohen and echo: “in a second!” Asks about an elevator tape that became a “catch and kill” item. Asks about the pay off for Trump University.|
|30||R-WV||Carol Miller||Miller again restates Cohen’s crimes, sounds envious of his ability to attract book deals. Cohen reveals that the book deal he was offered was more than Miller suspected. Miller ignored Cohen when he stated that he turned it down.
Yields to Jackass Jim Jordan, covers again the non-existent elevator tape.
|31||D-IL||Robin Kelly||Asks for explanation about the payment to Miss Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels, Keith Davidson was the attorney.|
|32||R-ND||Kelly Armstrong||“in a second - a SECOND!
in a second - a SECOND!
in a second - a SECOND!
in a second - a SECOND!”
|33||D-CA||Mark Desaulnier||Did Trump rig polls? Yes. What were the results? Right where we wanted them to be - in the top ten.|
|34||R-FL||Gregg Steube||Steube’s time in this hearing was a waste of time.|
|35||D-MI||Brenda Lawrence||Brenda Lawrence addresses the racism of Trump, ongoing threats to Cohen by Donald Trump, Guilliani, and Representative Mark Gaetz.|
|36||R-TX||Chip Roy||Chip Roy offers “heartfelt thoughts” for Cohen’s family, proceeds to quibble over whether Cohan volunteered or was asked to come to this hearing, reiterates the crimes.
Roy asked about Prague travel, offers an article in Mother Jones magazine; doesn’t wait for Cohen to respond. Cohen should have clarified this point. Was Cohen in Prague for an afternoon? Perhaps during a flight layover?
The rest is yelling.
|37||D-VI||Stacey Plaskett||Cohen was vice-chair of the Republican National Committee. Stacey Plaskett apologizes on behalf of members of the committee for their behavior. Suggests a criminal referral for Mark Gaetz for intimidation of a witness. Confirms that there was no NDA for Cohen about the payment to Stormy Daniels. Who else should we be talking to Weiselberg, Rhona Graff.|
|38||D-CA||Ro Khanna||Ro Khanna is head of Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign for president. He doesn’t take donations from PACs but is well connected and supported by tech industry. He has some good ideas about tech, education, future or work, environment.
“Never mind Russia. We are talking here about garden variety financial fraud.”
|39||D-CA||Jimmy Gomez||The president refused to release his tax returns, but Jimmy Gomez can subpoena them.|
|40||D-NY||Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez||Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez inquires about Trump’s variable asset declarations especially with regards to Trump’s golf course in the Bronx, Trump Links.|
|41||D-MA||Ayanna Pressley||Trump agreed to dissolve the Trump Foundation. Ayanna Pressley addresses Trump’s fraud in dealing with the “charitable” Trump Foundation.|
|42||D-MI||Rashida Tlaib||Rashida Tlaib declares that some colleagues can’t handle the truth. Addresses Trump’s bribes. We don’t need a collusion clause with a foreign government to know this president has disregarded the law of the land.
Tlaib’s statements about racism causes the flare up with Mark Meadows. Meadows interrupts. She is right, her sentiments are the way I interpreted Meadows’ actions.
Testimony Of Michael D. Cohen
February 27, 2019
Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today.
I have asked this Committee to ensure that my family be protected from Presidential threats, and that the Committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. Thank you for your help and for your understanding.
I am here under oath to correct the record, to answer the Committee’s questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump.
I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.
Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for President, launch a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said “yes” to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.
I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.
I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty – of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.
I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.
I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.
He is a racist.
He is a conman.
He is a cheat.
He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.
I will explain each in a few moments.
I am providing the Committee today with several documents. These include:
- A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account – after he became president – to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign;
- Copies of financial statements for 2011 - 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank;
- A copy of an article with Mr. Trump’s handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself – he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs; and
- Copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.
I hope my appearance here today, 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.
Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole.
The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump.
Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.
I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false – our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.
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.
There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me “How’s it going in Russia?” – referring to the Moscow Tower project.
You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.
To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.
And so I lied about it, too – because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.
Over the past two years, I have been smeared as “a rat” by the President of the United States. The truth is much different, and let me take a brief moment to introduce myself.
My name is Michael Dean Cohen.
I am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son. When I married my wife, I promised her that I would love her, cherish her, and protect her. As my father said countless times throughout my childhood, “you my wife, and you my children, are the air that I breathe.”
To my Laura, my Sami, and my Jake, there is nothing I wouldn-t do to protect you.
I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity, and compassion – qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm’s way to do what they knew was right.
That is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. Mom and Dad - I am sorry that I let you down. As many people that know me best would say, I am the person they would call at 3 a.m. if they needed help. I proudly remember being the emergency contact for many of my children’s friends when they were growing up because their parents knew that I would drop everything and care for them as if they were my own.
Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1.
For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump.
It is painful to admit that I was motivated by ambition at times. It is even more painful to admit that many times I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have. Sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.
For that reason, I have come here to apologize to my family, to the government, and to the American people.
Accordingly, let me now tell you about Mr. Trump.
I got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than 10 years, as his Executive Vice President and Special Counsel and then personal attorney when he became President. When I first met Mr. Trump, he was a successful entrepreneur, a real estate giant, and an icon. Being around Mr. Trump was intoxicating. When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself - that you were somehow changing the world.
I wound up touting the Trump narrative for over a decade. That was my job. Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life. At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.
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.
I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. I am ashamed to say, that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the President, I consider it significant and dangerous.
But in the mix, lying for Mr. Trump was normalized, and no one around him questioned it. In fairness, no one around him today questions it, either.
A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.
As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.
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.”
Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”
In private, he is even worse.
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.
And yet I continued to work for him.
Mr. Trump is a cheat.
As previously stated, I’m giving the Committee today three years of President Trump’s financial statements, from 2011–2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are Exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c to my testimony.
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.
I am sharing with you two newspaper articles, side by side, that are examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his assets, as I said, to suit his financial interests. These are Exhibit 2 to my testimony.
As I noted, I’m giving the Committee today an article he wrote on, and sent me, that reported on an auction of a portrait of Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 3A to my testimony.
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. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.
And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reduced payment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.
And yet, I continued to work for him.
Mr. Trump is a conman.
He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did.
Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly – and she did not deserve that.
I am giving the Committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to Ms. Clifford’s attorney during the closing days of the presidential campaign that was demanded by Ms. Clifford to maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 4 to my testimony.
Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too – without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.
I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.
As Exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check 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, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr. Trump’s TV lawyer – for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year – while he 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. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr. Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
So picture this scene – in February 2017, one month into his presidency, I’m visiting President Trump in the Oval Office for the first time. It’s truly awe-inspiring, he’s showing me around and pointing to different paintings, and he says to me something to the effect of – Don’t worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming. They were FedExed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.
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. These are Exhibit 6.
The irony wasn’t lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared “Let him show his records” after calling President Obama “a terrible student.”
The sad fact is that I never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better. In fact, he did the opposite.
When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees’ salaries in half – including mine – he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving “someone like him” that much money back.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be “a hero” because he likes people who weren’t captured. At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.
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 find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.
And yet, I continued to work for him.
Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.
Sometime in the summer of 2017, I read all over the media that there had been a meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 involving Don Jr. and others from the campaign with Russians, including a representative of the Russian government, and an email setting up the meeting with the subject line, “Dirt on Hillary Clinton.” Something clicked in my mind.
I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: “The meeting is all set.” I remember Mr. Trump saying, “Ok good – let me know.”"
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. And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone – and certainly not without checking with his father.
I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So, I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representative when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day – and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about when he said, “That’s good – let me know.”
Over the past year or so, I have done some real soul searching. I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions I made.
To you, Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, the other members of this Committee, and the other members of the House and Senate, I am sorry for my lies and for lying to Congress.
To our nation, I am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most.
For those who question my motives for being here today, I understand. I have lied, but I am not a liar. I have done bad things, but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things, but I am no longer your “fixer,” Mr. Trump.
I am going to prison and have shattered the safety and security that I tried so hard to provide for my family. My testimony certainly does not diminish the pain I caused my family and friends – nothing can do that. And I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.
And, by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the President and his lawyer – trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel. Mr. Trump called me a “rat” for choosing to tell the truth – much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.
As Exhibit 8 shows, I have provided the Committee with copies of Tweets that Mr. Trump posted, attacking me and my family – only someone burying his head in the sand would not recognize them for what they are: encouragement to someone to do harm to me and my family.
I never imagined that he would engage in vicious, false attacks on my family – and unleash his TV-lawyer to do the same. I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will make it clear:
As a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.
I wish to especially thank Speaker Pelosi for her statements in Exhibit 9 to protect this institution and me, and the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff and Chairman Cummings for likewise defending this institution and my family against the attacks by Mr. Trump, and also the many Republicans who have admonished the President as well.
I am not a perfect man. I have done things I am not proud of, and I will live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life.
But today, I get to decide the example I set for my children and how I attempt to change how history will remember me. I may not be able to change the past, but I can do right by the American people here today.
Thank you for your attention. I am happy to answer the Committee’s questions.