Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, appeared before the House oversight committee Wednesday in a highly publicized hearing that produced several eyebrow-raising moments.
After he delivered his explosive prepared testimony, lawmakers spent hours grilling Cohen about his past conversations and business dealings with Trump.
While Democrats took a more measured approach in their exchanges with Cohen, Republicans tore into the former lawyer ― he was recently disbarred ― over his past lies to Congress and his willingness to turn on the president.
Here are some of the wildest exchanges from the hearing, in chronological order:
Republicans Tried To Postpone Hearing
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) accused Cohen of breaking committee rules by submitting his written prepared testimony less than 24 hours before the hearing. In a fiery display, Meadows called on the committee chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), to postpone the hearing.
Several other Republicans, including its ranking GOP member, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, joined Meadows in his motion to delay the event.
The committee voted 24-17 to proceed with the hearing.
“Each of us in this room has this duty to serve as an independent check on the executive branch,” Cummings said. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are in search of the truth.”
Cohen Called Trump A ‘Racist’ And A ‘Conman’ In Prepared Testimony
After being sworn in, Cohen spent roughly 30 minutes reading his written prepared testimony, which was leaked to the media Tuesday evening.
Some of the most jaw-dropping lines included Cohen calling the president a “racist,” claiming Trump knew of Wikileaks’ plan in 2016 to publish leaked emails damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, and alleging the president repaid him with personal checks for hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.
“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience,” Cohen read from his testimony. “I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.”
He Handed Over Documents That Allegedly Exemplify Trump’s Shady Behavior
Cohen said several documents he submitted to the House panel will prove Trump engaged in “conman”-like behavior as well as financial misconduct.
He provided two images of checks from Trump-linked bank accounts that were dated March 2017 and August 2017 and totaled $71,000. Cohen said the money was part of a repayment plan for his hush money payments to Daniels.
Cohen also detailed threats he made to schools and the College Board on behalf of Trump to pressure them not to share information about his academic history.
“When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores,” he told the committee.
Fordham University confirmed the authenticity of a copy of a letter Cohen submitted to the committee in which he threatened to hold the institution liable to the fullest extent should they release Trump’s educational records.
Republicans Repeatedly Attacked Cohen’s Credibility
GOP committee members frequently pointed out that Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for a series of charges he pleaded guilty to last year, including lying to Congress.
“Here’s what I see: I see a guy who’s worked for 10 years and is here trashing the guy he worked for for 10 years, didn’t get a job in the White House and now you’re behaving just like everybody else who got fired or didn’t get the job they wanted,” Jordan told Cohen, who denied having ever wanted to work in the White House
The Republican lawmakers also erected posters apparently meant to embarrass Cohen and undermine his credibility.
“Liar liar pants on fire!” stated one poster featuring a picture of Cohen’s face. Other signs featured tweets from the @WomenForCohen fan account created during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen chuckled when Jordan brought up the @WomenForCohen account, alleging that he didn’t personally set up the account and that it wasn’t created to protect Trump’s interests.
“We were having fun,” Cohen told Jordan. “We were having fun during a stressful time.”
He later accused the GOP committee members of “blindly” following Trump as he once had and slamming their behavior as “really unbecoming of Congress.”
“It’s that sort of behavior that I’m responsible for,” he said. “I’m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you’re doing now for 10 years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years.”
Cohen Said It’s Possible Trump Was Compromised By A Foreign Agent
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) asked whether he believed Trump would cooperate or collude with a foreign power to win the presidency, a possibility special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating as part of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“In your opinion and experience, would he have the potential to cooperate or collude with a foreign power to win the presidency at all costs?” Wasserman Schultz asked.
Cohen responded: “Yes.”
The former attorney said he wasn’t sure whether Trump colluded, but he did feel there was “something odd about the back-and-forth praise” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.