The long-awaited public testimony for Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen began on Wednesday morning. As Cohen’s testimony before Congress started, he slammed Trump as a “racist” and a “con man” who used mob-like tactics to intimidate the attorney.
During his 30-minute long opening statement, Cohen not only told the House Oversight Committee that Trump knew Roger Stone spoke to Julian Assange ahead of the WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails, but he also said Trump was aware of the $35,000 payout to Stormy Daniels and that the president instructed him to lie about his business dealings in Moscow.
Cohen, however, did say that he does not know if Trump or his presidential campaign colluded with Russia.
"I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions," he said.
Cohen then addressed why he lied to Congress in 2017 about Trump's project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
"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. 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," said Cohen.
"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," he added.
When it comes to allegations of racism, Cohen claimed that Trump, during a drive through Chicago, once said, “only Black people could live like this.” Cohen also said that during the campaign, Trump said Blacks would never vote for him because “they’re too stupid.”
Cohen presented several pieces of evidence during the testimony, including a copy of a $35,000 check that Trump personally signed from his personal bank account in August 2017 while he was president to reimburse Cohen "for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf."
The check, Cohen said, was one of 11 issued to him. Other checks were signed by Don Jr. and Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump organization.
Once Cohen decided to speak out against the president, he was subjected to personal attacks by the president.
"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," he said.
Check back for updates on this story as the hearing continues.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)