‘He said, ‘No collusion.’ And I was a little impressed by that, frankly…’
(John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call) President Donald Trump slammed his former personal attorney Michael Cohen and House Oversight Democrats, saying holding Cohen’s testimony during Trump’s North Korea nuclear summit was “shameful.”
Trump admitted he watched as much of the Wednesday hearing as he could from Hanoi, where his summit with Kim Jong Un collapsed over an impasse over existing sanctions on the hermit country. Cohen told the panel his former boss is a “con man” and a “cheat” who is “racist” and committed a slew of crimes, including campaign finance violations, tax fraud, banking crimes and insurance fraud.
“I think having a fake hearing like that, and having it in the middle of this summit, really is a terrible thing,” Trump said during a news conference before heading to Air Force One for the long journey back to Washington. “They could have made it two days later or next week, and it would have been even better. They would have had more time.”
The president accused his former fixer of repeatedly lying to the House panel hours after committee Republicans tried all day to discredit Cohen, who is heading to prison for lying to Congress.
“He lied a lot,” the president said.
Trump, however, was willing to take Cohen at his word on one matter on which his presidency could hinge as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wraps up his probe of 2016 Russia election meddling and possible coordination with Trump’s first presidential campaign.
“But it was very interesting because he didn’t lie about one thing: He said, ‘No collusion with the Russian hoax.’ And I said, ‘I wonder why he didn’t lie about that, too, like he did everything else.’ He lied about so many things,” Trump said, describing him as “actually impressed that he didn’t say, ‘Well, I think there was collusion for this reason or that.’
“He said, ‘No collusion.’ And I was a little impressed by that, frankly,” Trump told reporters. “He only went about 95 percent instead of 100 percent. … This is so bad for our country. … It was pretty shameful, I think.”
Back home, Cohen described over a daylong hearing how Trump’s business and campaign worked.
“Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization was to protect Trump,” Cohen testified. “Every day, we knew we were going to lie for him. That became the norm.”
Cohen explained to the panel how his former boss would communicate indirectly with subordinates.
“That’s how he speaks. He doesn’t give you questions, he doesn’t give you orders — he speaks in a code,” Cohen said. “And I understand the code because I’ve been around him for a decade.”
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