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1737d ago / 6:05 PM UTC

Dem lawmaker: Republicans aren't upset Cohen lied to Congress for Trump, they're upset he stopped

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., opened his allotted time to question Cohen's response to a Republican line of attack on Cohen that has run throughout the day.

"Our colleagues aren't upset because you lied to Congress for the president," Raskin said. "They're upset because you've stopped lying to Congress for the president."

Republicans have repeatedly highlighted Cohen's past lying to Congress, which he has admitted and pleaded guilty to. Cohen says he lied to help Trump, but Republicans have questioned whether he lied to help himself.

1736d ago / 11:34 PM UTC

Which 2020 Democratic candidates weighed in?

A round-up of who in the 2020 Democratic presidential field chimed in, what they said, and who stayed quiet:

Kirsten Gillibrand: The New York senator wrote on Twitter that a presidential campaign “should never be in the business of scheming with foreign adversaries to tamper with our elections. I just thought that went without saying.”

She also tweeted screenshots of two articles, one of which was titled “Michael Cohen To Face Tough Questioning From House Oversight Committee.” Gillibrand added her own take: “Elections matter.”

Amy Klobuchar:  Of the 2020 candidates, the Minnesota senator offered the most direct comments on the hearing, highlighting several articles on Cohen's testimony on Twitter: “This is a big deal: Michael Cohen says President Trump was involved in a hush money scheme. … This is even a bigger deal:  Cohen has alleged that Trump knew in advance that the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks planned to publish hacked Democratic National Committee emails.” She also tweeted about Cohen acknowledging he "lied under oath to Congress" about talks on a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow.

Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts senator did not address Cohen directly, but she did author a blog post on Medium as the hearing was underway in which she vowed, "If I’m elected President of the United States, there will be no pardons for anyone implicated in these investigations."

Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders were all active on Twitter, but they stayed quiet about Cohen's testimony.

1736d ago / 11:30 PM UTC

Analysis: Cohen came off as 'credible,' testimony will shape committee's next step

After Cohen's hearing came to a close, legal experts — as well as a former adviser to Trump's campaign — said they found Cohen a "credible" witness despite his own admitted lies and crimes. 

"I think Cohen came across as very credible," Mimi Rocah, a former prosecutor for the Southern District of New York and an NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst, said on "Meet the Press Daily."

Rocah emphasized that Cohen didn't "go too far" in his testimony. "He tells us when he knows something and he doesn't try to implicate people in something that he can't," she said.

Sam Nunberg, a former adviser to Trump's 2016 campaign, agreed, and added he thinks Trump "hated today more than losing the shutdown."

Ben Wittes, editor-in-chief of Lawfare and a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, said his big takeaway is that Cohen's testimony will now aid in "creating an agenda" for the next Oversight hearing.

"The committee is getting a huge number of tips and leads of who else they should be talking to," Wittes said. "They emerged from this with a giant witness list."

1736d ago / 11:08 PM UTC

'Completely false': Trump attorney Jay Sekulow disputes point in Cohen testimony

Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump's legal team, pushed back on a part of Cohen's testimony after the hearing wrapped.

"Today’s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the president edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false," Sekulow said in a statement.

During Wednesday's public hearing, Cohen testified that Sekulow was among the lawyers who reviewed his previous prepared remarks to Congress regarding the Trump Organization's negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and made changes and additions. Cohen later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about those negotiations, saying he did so to align with Trump's preferred narrative.

"You said you lied to Congress about Trump's negotiations to build his Moscow Tower because he made it clear to you that he wanted you to lie," Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said. "One of the reasons you knew this was because 'Mr. Trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.'"

"So this is a pretty breathtaking claim and I just want to get to the facts here," Raskin continued. "Which specific lawyers reviewed and edited your statement to Congress on the Moscow Tower negotiations and did they make any changes to your statement?"

"There were changes made, additions," Cohen responded. "Jay Sekulow for one."

Cohen added that "several changes" were made, "including how we were going to handle that message, which was — the message of course being the length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive."

1736d ago / 9:44 PM UTC

Cohen says he hasn't seen proof Trump's tax returns are under audit

Cohen said that he didn't actually think Trump's tax returns were under audit during the 2016 election, contrary to what Trump has long claimed. 

"I asked for a copy of the audit so that I could use it in terms of my statements to the press. And I was never able to obtain one," he said in answer to a question about whether Trump's tax returns were, in fact, under audit by the IRS. 

Trump refused to release his tax returns while running for office because he said they were under audit. He has never released them.

Trump is the only major party nominee of the past 40 years to not release his tax returns.

1736d ago / 9:40 PM UTC

Programming note: Cohen will take questions from reporters following testimony

Cohen’s testimony may soon be coming to an end, but not his grilling. Cohen is planning to take questions from reporters after he’s done testifying under oath, according to his lawyer, Lanny Davis.

Cohen is facing questions from several more lawmakers before ending his day of testimony. Stay tuned.

1736d ago / 9:36 PM UTC

Cohen dismisses anti-Trump conspiracies in testimony

Cohen dismissed a series of anti-Trump rumors during his testimony even as Republicans repeatedly pressed forward with the idea that nothing he said can be trusted.

First, Cohen said he knew nothing about any rumored or alleged physical violence committed by Trump, the president using any drugs, being delinquent on child care payments, or paying for any health care procedures for women not in his family, an apparent reference to abortion.

He shot down a rumored tape of Trump striking his wife, Melania Trump, in an elevator, saying, "It doesn't exist," and "Mr. Trump would never" hit her. He said "to the best of my knowledge," the president does not have a love child.

Cohen was also asked about "anything that the president has done at home or abroad" or "any videotapes" that could subject Trump to extortion or blackmail, an apparent reference to salacious, unverified allegations in former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele's dossier. Cohen answered, "I’ve heard about these tapes for a long time, had many people contact me over the years. I have no reason to believe that that tape exists."  

On another item from Steele's dossier, a trip to Prague Cohen was alleged to have taken in the summer of 2016 to participate in secret meetings with Russians, Cohen said he had never been to the city or the Czech Republic.

1736d ago / 9:29 PM UTC

We're back

The hearing has resumed for Round 2, with Cohen back in the hot seat to face questions from five more House Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

Cohen's testimony has so far included withering descriptions of the president's character, as well as details about hush money payments and Trump's ambitions for a real estate deal in Moscow.

1736d ago / 9:24 PM UTC

Florida Bar investigating Rep. Gaetz for ominous Cohen tweet

“The Florida Bar is aware of the comments made in a tweet yesterday by Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is a Florida Bar member, and I can confirm we have opened an investigation,” Francine Andia Walker, the organization’s communications director, said in an email Wednesday.

Gaetz, a close ally of the president, had tweeted: “Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. She's about to learn a lot ... "

Gaetz offered no evidence for the claim, and was immediately accused of witness intimidation by ethics experts online. He defended himself in an interview with NBC News, saying: "This isn't witness tampering. This is witness testing."

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., put out a statement asking members "be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties," Gaetz tweeted an apology and said he was deleting the earlier tweet. He said it was "NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did."

During her questioning of Cohen, Del. Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands said Gaetz should “at the very least” be referred to the House Ethics Committee, and could be referred for criminal prosecution.

Gaetz, who is not on the Oversight Committee, was seen standing with Republicans against the far wall of the hearing room for the beginning of Cohen’s testimony.

1736d ago / 8:58 PM UTC

Sen. Warner says it's 'plausible' Stone told Trump about hacked emails in advance

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters earlier Wednesday that it's plausible that former Trump adviser Roger Stone told Trump in advance of hacked emails coming to light. 

"To me it's very plausible that Roger Stone would relay that information to Donald Trump," Warner said, adding, "I think Mr. Cohen’s testimony is pretty compelling."

Warner said Cohen spoke before the Senate Intelligence Committee for nine and half hours yesterday and characterized the testimony as "very, very important." He added that some of yesterday's testimony has been repeated today.

1737d ago / 8:31 PM UTC

Legal analysis: Cohen acting like 'most cooperating witnesses'

Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and senior FBI official, says Cohen is acting like "most cooperating witnesses."

"There is an interesting point about how prosecutors make cases: Prosecutors drill in on details, members of Congress don't seem to do that quite as much," Rosenberg told MSNBC's Katy Tur.

"The details really matter," he said. "Cohen only has a small piece of it. He isn't overstating his case, he's not speculating, I'm not hearing conjecture from him," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg says Cohen clearly knows the information he provides to Congress has to be corroborated, but added, "I just don't think Congress is doing a very good job at corroborating it. Mueller will."

1737d ago / 8:23 PM UTC

Trump campaign responds to Cohen testimony

While President Trump is in Vietnam meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for Trump’s re-election bid, issued a statement after lawmakers recessed the hearing for votes. Here's the campaign's take on events so far:

Michael Cohen is a felon, a disbarred lawyer, and a convicted perjurer, who lied to both Congress and the Special Counsel in a ‘deliberate and premeditated’ fashion according to the Special Counsel’s Office. Now he offers what he says is evidence, but the only support for that is his own testimony, which has proven before to be worthless. As noted by the Southern District of New York, Cohen’s wide array of crimes were ‘marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life’ and his ‘instinct to blame others is strong.’  Prosecutors said his actions were to ensure that he would ‘profit personally, build his own power, and enhance his level of influence.’ This is the same Michael Cohen who has admitted that he lied to Congress previously. Why did they even bother to swear him in this time?