This week, tensions on Capitol Hill exploded yet again when former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified publicly before the House Oversight Committee, facing hours and hours of questioning. The tension spilled over all the way to Vietnam, where following Cohen’s appearance, President Donald Trump responded angrily to the tumult in a press conference concurrent to his visit there with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
He told reporter Jon Karl:
‘He lied a lot, but it was very interesting, because he didn’t lie about one thing. He said no collusion with the Russian hoax. I said I wonder why he didn’t just lie about that too like he did about everything else. I mean he lied about so many different things. I was actually impressed that he didn’t say “well, I think there was collusion for this reason or that.” He didn’t say that, he said no collusion… The fact is, there is no collusion, and I call it the witch hunt. This should never happen to another president.’
.@jonkarl asks Trump about Cohen’s testimony that he’s “a liar, conman, & racist.” Trump says Cohen’s comments about him are “incorrect” but adds “he didn’t lie about 1 thing. He said, ‘no collusion with the Russian hoax.’…he said, ‘no collusion.'” (That’s not what Cohen said!) pic.twitter.com/dJvef5zbdH
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2019
In fact, Cohen did not claim there to be no collusion between the Trump team and Kremlin operatives seeking to tilt the outcome of the 2016 elections in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favor. All he said was that he had no “direct evidence” of collusion of the sort that Congress would be interested in, but he did share that he had suspicions that collusion was possible.
For instance, he explained, he overheard a 2016 phone call on which longtime Trump friend Roger Stone notified the then-candidate that a dump of stolen emails damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign would be soon incoming from Wikileaks.
He also suspects that then-candidate Trump was, in fact, in on Donald Trump Jr.’s efforts to meet with Kremlin lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who he’d been promised would bring Russian government dirt on Hillary. Cohen was in the room, he says, at one point around when the meeting took place when Trump Jr. notified his father that “the meeting had been set,” and he says Trump separately explained to him he felt his son had terrible judgment and therefore the now former lawyer does not believe Trump Jr. would have set up the meeting on his own.
Despite Trump’s repeated claims otherwise, there is other suspicion-inducing evidence surrounding the Trump team too. For instance, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort currently awaits sentencing for crimes including conspiracy against the United States because of years of secretive lobbying work for the now defunct, Kremlin-aligned Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych.
There are a whole host of meetings that took place between Trump operatives and Russian individuals, and yet, Trump refuses to acknowledge any of that.
He provided no evidence for his other claim this week that Cohen lied about most of what he discussed with Congress. The president has good reason to claim as much, though, since the now former lawyer directly accused him this week of crimes like insurance fraud, besides sharing stories about the nature of the president as a “racist, a conman, and a cheat.”
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