HANOI, Vietnam – President Donald Trump criticized the congressional testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen as “shameful” and accused Cohen of lying “a lot.”
Trump’s remarks Thursday came just hours after Cohen, during extraordinary testimony before a House committee, branded Trump as a “con man” and a racist and accused him of criminal wrongdoing.
Speaking to reporters at the end of his summit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un i, Trump said he watched some of Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday.
“It was pretty shameful, I think,” Trump said.
Trump called the hearing “a fake hearing” and blasted the committee for holding it during his denuclearization talks with Kim.
“Having it during this very important summit is sort of incredible,” Trump said.
Cohen “lied a lot” in his testimony, Trump said. But he said he was surprised that Cohen did not accuse his presidential campaign of colluding with the Russians during the 2016 election.
“He didn’t lie about one thing: He said no collusion with the Russian hoax,” Trump said.
“I was actually impressed he didn’t say I think there was collusion for this reason or that,” Trump said. “… I was a little impressed by that frankly.”
In testimony that was both combative and contrite, Cohen tied the White House more directly than ever to multiple investigations that have shadowed Trump’s presidency.
Cohen told the congressional panel that Trump knew in advance that WikiLeaks planned to release stolen emails damaging to political rival Hillary Clinton.
Cohen said Trump personally reimbursed Cohen for an illegal hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and testified the president indirectly encouraged him to lie to Congress about his pursuit of a potentially lucrative Trump Tower development in Moscow – even as Trump repeatedly denied any business interests in Russia throughout the 2016 campaign.
In another potentially damaging revelation, Cohen suggested that Trump knew in advance of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, headed by Donald Trump Jr., in which a Russian lawyer promised to provide damaging information on Clinton.
Cohen provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with documents that appeared to back up some of his claims, including a $35,000 check signed by Trump.
Cohen said the personal check, signed during the first year of his presidency, was one of 11 “installment” payments to reimburse him for the hush money payment to adult film star Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump.
Trump’s defenders on the committee blasted Cohen as a pathological liar and pointed out repeatedly that he has pleaded guilty to a string of financial crimes and for lying to Congress. Cohen is to begin a three-year prison term on those charges on May 6.
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