Donald Trump Jr signed Stormy Daniels check, Michael Cohen to tell Congress

Donald Trump’s former lawyer will tell Congress on Wednesday that the president’s eldest son signed a check to fund illegal hush money payments to a pornographic actor, potentially placing Donald Trump Jr in legal peril.

Michael Cohen is preparing to show a House committee a check signed by Trump Jr reimbursing Cohen for payments to Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had an affair with Trump, according to a source familiar with Cohen’s plans.

Cohen, who spent a decade as Trump’s enforcer, also intends to say that Trump had advance knowledge of plans by WikiLeaks to release stolen Democratic emails and of a meeting his son held with Russians during the 2016 election campaign.

A copy of Cohen’s prepared remarks to the House oversight committee was obtained by the Guardian. He declared his former boss was a racist, a conman and a cheat.

The finding that Donald Jr was directly involved in the scheme to pay off Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, could mean the president’s son faces legal jeopardy. Federal prosecutors in New York, who have had copies of the checks and other records for months, say the payments violated campaign finance laws.

Cohen is the first Trump associate to publicly allege that the president had inside information about WikiLeaks releasing Democratic emails, which US intelligence agencies say were hacked by Russian operatives working to help Trump’s campaign.

Trump received the information on WikiLeaks in the days before the Democratic party convention July 2016 in a telephone call from Roger Stone, his longtime friend and adviser, according to Cohen, who said the call was placed on speakerphone.

“Mr Stone told Mr Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr Assange told Mr Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’”

Trump has denied knowing about the hacking of Democratic emails or of plans for their release. Stone previously claimed to have been in touch with Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, but now says that he was lying about this.

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Stone, whose public statements have been restricted by a judge’s gag order, said on Wednesday: “Mr Cohen’s statement is untrue.”

Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is concluding a two-year investigation into any links or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is accused of sharing polling data with an alleged Russian intelligence operative. Trump has dismissed Mueller’s inquiry as a “witch hunt”.

Cohen also said that he recalled Donald Trump Jr, the president’s eldest son, telling his father “in a low voice” in early June 2016: “The meeting is all set.” Cohen claims this was a reference to Donald Jr’s now-infamous gathering with several Russians, including a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, at Trump Tower that month.

“I remember Mr Trump saying, ‘OK good … let me know,” Cohen said in his prepared remarks. He said Trump had previously complained that Donald Jr “had the worst judgment of anyone in the world” and would not have set up a meeting of such significance without clearing it with his father.

Trump told Mueller in a series of written answers last year that he did not discuss WikiLeaks with Stone and did not know of the Trump Tower meeting in advance, according to CNN.

Cohen was preparing for a marathon hearing of the oversight committee, which has 42 members. Republicans keen to defend the president were expected to attack his credibility. Cohen pleaded guilty to crimes including lying to Congress and is scheduled to go to prison in May to begin a three-year sentence.

His prepared remarks painted a scathing picture of a mobster-like president, who denounced Cohen as a “rat” for turning on his former boss. Cohen recalled being dispatched by Trump to shortchange suppliers and to threaten his schools that they must not release his student grades.

Describing his testimony as a step on “path of redemption”, Cohen apologized to Congress for his past lies about the details of Trump’s plans in 2016 to build a tower in Moscow. He also said sorry to the country for “working to hide from you the truth about Mr Trump when you needed it most”.

Cohen described being intoxicated by Trump’s charisma in the early days of their work together. Now, he said, he understood Trump was an unkind, disloyal man in whom “the bad far outweighs the good’”.

Trump said black people were “too stupid” to vote for him and remarked during a drive through a poor area of Chicago that “only black people could live that way,” according to Cohen. “He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole’,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he was asked during the 2016 campaign to handle negative press around Trump’s avoidance of the Vietnam war draft by claiming he had bone spurs on a foot. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam,” Cohen quoted Trump as saying.

He also planned to produce false financial statements Trump provided to Deutsche Bank in pursuit of loans. Cohen said Trump inflated his wealth to secure a place on rich lists and artificially reduced it to avoid paying tax.

The prepared remarks described a remarkable scheme in which Trump directed Cohen to find a “straw bidder” to ensure a portrait of Trump fetched the highest price in a charity auction in 2013. Once the fake buyer secured the painting for $60,000, Trump paid for it out of his charitable foundation, according to Cohen.

Trump later boasted on Twitter that his portrait had attracted the top price.

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"The Man Doesn't Tell Truth": Ex-Lawyer Michael Cohen On Trump

Washington: President Donald Trump knew it was wrong to order election-eve hush money paid to two women who claimed to have had affairs with him, his former lawyer Michael Cohen said in an interview to be broadcast Friday.

Trump acted because he "was very concerned about how this would affect the election," Cohen told ABC News of the women's allegations in his first comments since being sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday.

Trump has said he never directed Cohen to break the law. But Cohen, asked if Trump knew the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were wrong, said "of course."

Cohen challenged Trump's assertion that he never told him to break the law.

"I don't think there is anybody that believes that," Cohen told George Stephanopoulos on the program "Good Morning America." ABC released excerpts of the interview ahead of its full airing.

"First of all, nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters," Cohen said.

"He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth," Cohen added.

"And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don't believe what he is saying. The man doesn't tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds," said Cohen.

Trump denies having affairs with the women who were paid off just weeks before the election in which Trump beat Hillary Clinton.

The US president enters his third year in office facing an increasingly perilous situation as federal prosecutors and the special investigation into alleged collusion with Russia close in on him and his inner circle.

But he was as combative as ever on Twitter Thursday when he sought to distance himself from Cohen, his loyal fixer for a decade.

In his first public reaction since Cohen was sentenced, Trump said he was the victim of the attorney's malpractice.

"He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law," Trump tweeted. "It is called 'advice of counsel,' and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid."

Later, he told Fox News that he was being singled out for a grilling over payments that would not cause a ripple elsewhere among politicians.

"Nobody except for me would be looked at like this, nobody," he said.

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Cohen says Trump knew about Trump Tower meeting with Russians: CNN

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said that Trump knew in advance about a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower at which Russians offered to provide damaging information about his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, CNN reported on Thursday.

A combination photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump's onetime personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

CNN, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter, said Cohen is willing to make that assertion to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign.

“He cannot be believed,” Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, told Reuters on Thursday, referring to Cohen. “If they rely on him ... it would destroy whatever case they have.” Giuliani was referring to Mueller’s investigation.

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Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. His attorney Lanny Davis declined to comment.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment. Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for Manhattan federal prosecutors, also declined to comment.

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, and for possible campaign law violations linked to a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who has claimed she had a sexual encounter with Trump, and other matters related to Trump’s campaign, a person familiar with the investigation has told Reuters.

Cohen has not been charged with any crime. Trump has denied having had an encounter with Daniels.

Previously Trump has denied knowing in advance that the Trump Tower meeting was going to take place, and he has denied that there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia. Moscow has denied meddling in the election.

Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., along with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and senior campaign aide Paul Manafort took part in the meeting with Nataliya Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer and acknowledged Kremlin informant.

Donald Trump Jr. told investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017 that he did not tell his father about the meeting beforehand, according to documents released by the committee.

Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for the Trump Organization and Donald Trump Jr., told Reuters, “Donald Trump Jr. has been professional and responsible throughout the Mueller and Congressional investigations. We are very confident of the accuracy and reliability of the information that has been provided by Mr. Trump, Jr., and on his behalf.”

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