Washington, D.C. (Feb. 27, 2019)—Today, the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and one of his most trusted advisors. Mr. Cohen’s statements—many supported by corroborating documents—revealed new information that raises serious legal and ethical concerns about the conduct of President Trump and the accuracy of his statements.
- Mr. Cohen produced to the Committee a personal check with President Trump’s signature, dated when the President was in office, that reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the illegal hush-money payments he made to Stormy Daniels. Mr. Cohen testified that this was one of 11 checks he received from President Trump or his trust. Even after writing these checks, President Trump publicly denied knowing anything about the hush-money payments.
- Mr. Cohen also produced a check from the Trump Trust signed by Donald Trump, Jr. and Alan Wiesselberg on March 17, 2017. This check was written after President Trump held a press conference announcing that he was no longer exercising control over the Trump businesses. Mr. Cohen testified that President Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Mr. Weisselberg were all active participants in this financial conspiracy.
- Mr. Cohen confirmed the inaccuracy of the information provided by the President’s lawyer about these payments to federal officials at the Office of Government Ethics (OGE). The President’s lawyer indicated to OGE that the payments were made pursuant to a retainer agreement, but Mr. Cohen testified that no such agreement existed—testimony confirmed by federal prosecutors.
- Mr. Cohen testified that President Trump “knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it.” According to Mr. Cohen, he personally discussed the issue with President Trump “at least a half-dozen times” during the campaign. Mr. Cohen also briefed Ivanka and Donald, Jr. about the project “in the regular course.”
- Mr. Cohen said that President Trump met with Mr. Cohen at the White House to discuss his upcoming testimony before the Intelligence Committees in 2017. He testified that the President reinforced the message he expected Mr. Cohen to follow. The existence of this meeting, which also included the President’s personal lawyer, was corroborated by an internal White House email on May 16, 2017, which was reviewed by the Committee in camera. The email stated: “POTUS requested a meeting on Thursday with Michael Cohen and Jay Sekulow.”
- Mr. Cohen testified that President Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited a draft of his false written statements to Congress on efforts to build Trump Tower Moscow during the 2016 campaign. Mr. Cohen testified that these lawyers wanted him to stay “on message” by minimizing the extent of negotiations and the involvement of President Trump.
- Mr. Cohen told the Committee that President Trump “knew from Roger Stone in advance about the Wikileaks drop of emails.” According to Mr. Cohen, he witnessed Roger Stone tell President Trump that he had just spoken with Julian Assange, and that there would be a “massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.” Mr. Cohen said President Trump replied, “wouldn’t that be great.”
- Mr. Cohen stated that President Trump provided inflated financial statements to Deutsche Bank while seeking a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills. Mr. Cohen also produced the President’s financial statements that reportedly were falsely inflated. Those statements show President Trump claimed to have boosted his net worth by more than $3 billion over just nine months. Mr. Cohen told the Committee that President 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.”
- Mr. Cohen disputed President Trump’s claim that he cannot release his tax returns because he is under audit. Mr. Cohen said that President Trump told him the real reason he has refused to release his tax returns is because he is afraid that “tax experts” will “run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces” and that the President would then be audited and forced to pay additional taxes and penalties.
Next Steps in the Investigation
Today, Chairman Elijah Cummings sent a letter to former Deputy White Counsel Stefan Passantino and a letter President Trump’s personal attorney Sheri Dillon requesting that they appear for transcribed interviews.
On February 15, the Committee released new documents showing that both attorneys were involved in a call in which Ms. Dillon appeared to provide inaccurate information to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) relating to the President’s hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
Chairman Cummings also sent a letter today to Ranking Member Jim Jordan in response to his letters last week objecting to the Committee’s efforts to investigate the Cohen payments.