One other important bit from Cohen’s testimony – he encouraged Congress to invite Rhona Graff in for questioning, claiming she could provide information to support some of his claims.
Graff is a longtime administrator at the Trump Organization. “When you need to reach Trump, call Rhona,” Politico explained in 2017.
Graff reportedly testified before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session when Republicans had control of the House.
The investigation into President Trump’s campaign and administration is closer than ever to bringing the truth to light.
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Florida representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican, is being investigated by Florida’s lawyer licensing organization, according to the Daily Beast.
Counsel for the Florida Bar told the Daily Beat that Gaetz was being investigated based on a complaint received from a member of the general public.
Yesterday, Gaetz appeared to threaten Michael Cohen on Twitter, writing: “Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?”
Legal experts, conservative and liberal, were quick to point out that his comment veered close, if not sped directly into, witness tampering territory.
Gaetz first defended his tweet, before later apologizing. He has since deleted the tweet in question.
There’s a break in the Cohen hearing – a recess starts now while committee members go vote on a bill requiring background checks on all firearm sales in the country. The recess should last about an hour.
Chip Roy, Republican from Texas, coming in hot: In 2011 my daughter was born and I was fighting cancer. Americans are mystified by the national deficit, and about border security. This hearing “is an embarrassment for our country”.
“I yield my time.”
Cohen says Trump asked him to lie to Melania Trump over payments
Cohen says Donald Trump asked him to lie to Melania Trump over those Stormy Daniels payment.
Trump had Cohen speak to Melania over the phone, Cohen says, and mislead her.
Cohen says he feels threatened by Trump’s statements about him on Twitter. Trump has repeatedly mentioned Cohen’s father-in-law in tweets.
“I don’t walk with my wife if we go to a restaurant. I don’t walk with my children. I make them walk ahead of me,” Cohen says.
Key moments from Michael Cohen’s explosive testimony – video
Mark DeSaulnier, California Democrat, asks Cohen about Trump Tower Moscow.
Cohen says he discussed a potential Trump Tower Moscow deal with Donald Trump “early on in [Trump’s presidential] campaign”.
“[Trump] told me to speak to Corey [Lewandowski] and see what dates might be available.”
Cohen says he and Lewandowski then discussed dates when Trump could potentially visit Russia to help seal the tower.
The trip never happened, Cohen says, because Cohen could not secure a suitable piece of property for the tower.
Cohen concludes by telling the hearing that he is concerned that members of the administration, “if they do follow” Trump, could face his own fate.
Robin Kelly, Illinois Democrat, asks Cohen about the shell company he set up and used to pay Stormy Daniels for her silence, and why he used an unusual payment procedure.
Why did you use this complicated process?
Cohen says it’s not difficult to start a LLC in that manner. But the reason he conducted the payment like this was because he didn’t want his own wife to know about it – she handles the finances.
Kelly: Did Trump “know you were going through this process to hide the payment?”
Cohen says Trump was concerned that his distinctive signature would be noticed if the check was seen elsewhere.
Kelly asks why Trump reimbursed him over a dozen payments for the $135,000 payment Cohen made to Stormy Daniels, instead of a lump sum.
“In order to hide the payment,” Cohen said.
Did Mr Trump know about this reimbursement method?
“Absolutely,” Cohen says. “We discussed it. Everything had to go through Mr Trump.”
The Guardian’s reporting on Donald Trump’s attempts to avoid taxes was cited during Michael Cohen’s testimony this morning.
This kind of in-depth, investigative reporting is time consuming and expensive, but it plays an essential role in exposing the truth and holding Trump accountable. We hope you’ll consider making a contribution to the Guardian to support our work.
The 2016 Guardian story referenced today revealed an attempt by Donald Trump to slash the property tax bill on a New York golf club he owned. Records show he claimed the property was worth $50m – but then said it was worth just $1.4m when it came time to pay tax.
The investigation into Trump’s campaign and administration is closer than ever to bringing the truth to light, and the Guardian is here to help bring clarity, analysis and fact-based reporting to this critical moment in American history. Make a contribution today.
Rep Carol Miller, Republican, is very disappointed about Cohen being invited here as a witness.
“I am appalled. We could be focussed on actual issues that are facing America.”
Cohen is a convicted felon, she notes. We can’t believe anything he says.
“One of the most appalling facts about this hearing,” Miller says, is that Cohen has used his experiences with Trump “for his own greed and profit”.
A full house from Miller – the old not credible, wanted to profit duo – and then she asks about a book deal. Someone’s read the GOP talking points.
Ralph Norman, from South Carolina: Mr Cohen you committed several crimes.
This continues for about five minutes.
Jackie Speier, Democrat, asks Cohen about several rumors, including whether Trump had a love child or physically harmed Melania Trump.
Cohen doesn’t think either are true.
Cohen says Trump told him to threaten people – “with litigation” – roughly 500 times during his 10 year employment.
Cohen breaks down as he says: “I wish I could go back in time” and act differently. He apologizes to his children.
Peter Welch, Democrat from Vermont, notes that Trump told the New York Times he had never spoken to Roger Stone about the emails, taken from DNC servers, which, Wikileaks released during the presidential campaign.
Welch asks Cohen if Trump’s claim was true.
Cohen: No it was not.
Cohen says he was in Trump’s office when Trump spoke to Stone about the emails. (Cohen also said this in his statement.) Trump and Stone talked on speakerphone.
Cohen says he doesn’t think Trump was aware of what the email ‘dump’ was going to be.
Clay Higgins, Louisiana: “I’ve arrested several thousand men and you remind me of many of them.”
Higgins, clearly coming into this with an open mind, says Cohen reminds him of the ones who go back to a life of crime after being caught.
Higgins asks Cohen about a potential television deal. This is becoming a real hobbyhorse. Higgins continues: “I ask you good sir” – (what year is this?) – have you got a book/television deal.
Cohen, surprisingly, hasn’t signed a book deal in the past 30 minutes that he’s been sitting there giving evidence.
Cohen: Trump told me to lie about Stormy Daniels payments
Cohen tells the hearing that Trump directed him to lie about the hush payments to Stormy Daniels.
Cohen says Trump told him to say Trump had no knowledge of payments Cohen made to Daniels in exchange for her silence regarding an alleged affair with Trump. Trump was president when this happened.
Directing those payments to Daniels is a crime – one of the crimes for which Cohen is about to serve three years in prison.