There'll be much talk of a 'rat,' hush money for onetime paramours and the 2016 presidential campaign. But did US president Donald Trump break the law? That's the key question Michael Cohen will be expected to answer with documents on Wednesday during a Capitol Hill drama that sounds more like a mobster movie every day. Trump's formal personal lawyer and 'fixer' is set to go public before a Democrat-led House panel and talk about the decade in which he would 'take a bullet' for his boss.
Washington: There'll be much talk of a "rat," hush money for onetime paramours and the 2016 presidential campaign. But did US president Donald Trump break the law? That's the key question Michael Cohen will be expected to answer with documents on Wednesday during a Capitol Hill drama that sounds more like a mobster movie every day. Trump's formal personal lawyer and "fixer" is set to go public before a Democrat-led House panel and talk about the decade in which he would "take a bullet" for his boss.
Donald Trump's former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen. AP
"I am no longer your 'fixer,' Mr. Trump," Cohen is to say in prepared remarks.
Cohen, who reports to prison in May under a plea deal, could do damage to Trump's cherished reputation and brand. He's expected to talk in detail about what he says is evidence of Trump's misconduct — perhaps even criminal behavior. Republicans say Cohen can't be believed; after all, he's lied to Congress before.
What's undisputable: Cohen has Trump's attention half a world away at a summit in Vietnam.
The drama unfolds at 10 a.m. EST - that's 8:30 pm IST. The witness will sing and his former client will likely be following along from halfway across the world.
Cohen, 52, is scheduled to raise his right hand and swear to tell the truth before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. Ahead of his appearance, copies of his prepared statement reached The Associated Press and other news media Tuesday night and offered a preview of scathing remarks directed at Trump.
Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to his rival Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Cohen says in the prepared testimony. Cohen also suggests that Trump implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project, the one Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about.
In the prepared remarks, Cohen brands the president a "racist," a "conman" and a "cheat." He says that Trump made racist comments about African-Americans and mused that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.
Other topics: Cohen claims Trump inflated assets to make a list of the richest Americans and deflated assets to pay lower taxes on his golf courses. Trump managed a hush money payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal just before the 2016 election, Cohen claims. A key point is whether Cohen has evidence that Trump knew the payments might have violated campaign finance laws.
Telling the truth is a big issue for Cohen, and much about the path forward for Democrats rides on his credibility. Cohen is set to serve prison time for lying to the House and Senate intelligence committees in 2017. Leaving a closed hearing Tuesday, Cohen said he wants to "clear the record and tell the truth."