Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, testified before Congress on Wednesday that the president reimbursed him for payments he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to maintain her silence about an alleged affair with Trump before the 2016 election.
“He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did,” Cohen said in his opening statement before the House oversight committee, referring to Melania Trump. “Lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets, because she is a kind, good person and I respect her greatly and she did not deserve that.”
As part of his explosive testimony, Cohen submitted to Congress copies of two checks that were part of the $130,000 he received for his reimbursement of the Stormy Daniels payment. Trump and White House officials have previously denied Trump ever had an affair with Daniels, who is legally known as Stephanie Clifford.
One check for $35,000 was signed by Trump himself on Aug. 1, 2017, while he was in office. Another check for $35,000 was signed by Trump’s son, Don Jr., and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg on March 17, 2017.
Last year, Weisselberg was granted immunity for his grand jury testimony about Cohen after he admitted that Trump directed him to commit campaign finance crimes.
Trump has long denied having any knowledge about the payments. Cohen, however, testified on Wednesday that Trump knew about the payments and was kept informed about negotiations with Clifford’s attorneys at the time.
“Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a home equity line of credit in order to avoid that it could be traced back to him,” Cohen said.
“I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later,” he added.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this year for crimes that included arranging the payments to Clifford. He is to report to prison in May.