Overview: During public testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Michael Cohen accused Trump of "criminal conduct" while in office, including the fact that Trump knew ahead of time about WikiLeaks' plan to release DNC emails that were intended to damage Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen testified that Trump "asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair" with $130,000 of his own money weeks before the 2016 election "to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign." Cohen also described his relationship with Trump: "He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat." (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters / Vox / Wall Street Journal / Politico)


⚡️ Key Moments:

This is a work in progress. Check back for updates. If a blurb isn't directly sourced, please see the live blog links above.

1/ Cohen said Trump knew that Roger Stone was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election and had advance knowledge that WikiLeaks planned to publish the hacked Democratic National Committee emails intended to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. In his prepared written testimony, Cohen alleged that, in July 2016, he witnessed Trump taking a phone call from Roger Stone, who was on speakerphone. During the call, Stone told Trump that "he had just gotten off the phone with [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange and that …within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton's campaign." Stone pushed back against Cohen's claim, saying in a text message to BuzzFeed News: "Mr. Cohen's statement is not true." Stone, however, is under a gag order not to publicly comment on his case, Mueller's investigation, or any "participants" in his case or the investigation. (Washington Post / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

  • 📌 Day 678: Trump told Robert Mueller that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks and that he was not told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr., campaign officials, and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump added a caveat that his responses were to the best of his recollection. For comparison, Trump also does not “remember much” from the meeting with George Papadopoulos, where Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting with Putin. Trump, however, has previously claimed to have “one of the great memories of all time,” using it as justification for not using notes during his meeting with Kim Jong Un, and blaming Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow when he stumbled over the solider’s name during a condolence call. (CNN)

  • [Perspective] Why it Matters if Trump Knew About Stone’s Contacts with WikiLeaks. It matters because WikiLeaks has a long and documented history of engaging in activities damaging to U.S. national security. (Lawfare)

2/ Cohen said he doesn't "know of direct evidence" that "Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia" during the 2016 election, "but I have my suspicions." Cohen said that he was in the room with Trump, "probably in early June 2016," when Trump Jr. "came into the room and walked behind his father's desk," leaned over "to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: 'The meeting is all set.' I remember Mr. Trump saying, 'Ok good…let me know.'" Cohen added that "Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world." (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 172: Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer to acquire damaging information about Hillary Clinton  in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York City. On Saturday, Trump Jr. said the meeting was about the issue of US adoptions of Russian children and not the campaign. However, in March, Trump Jr. said he never met with any Russians while working in a campaign capacity. The meeting – attended by Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner – was disclosed when Kushner filed a revised form in order to obtain a security clearance. Manafort also recently disclosed the meeting, and Trump Jr.’s role in organizing it, to congressional investigators looking into his foreign contacts. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 544: Michael Cohen says Trump knew in advance about Trump Jr.'s meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.  Cohen doesn't have evidence to back up his claim, but he is reportedly willing to make the assertion as part of his testimony to Robert Mueller. Cohen claims that he, along with several others, were in the room when Trump Jr. told Trump about the Russian's offer. According to Cohen, Trump approved the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Cohen's claim contradicts Trump, Trump Jr., their lawyers, and administration officials who have repeatedly said Trump didn't know about the meeting until he was asked about it in July 2017. Trump's response at the time was: "No. That I didn't know. Until a couple of days ago, when I heard about this. No I didn't know about that." A few days later, Trump was again asked whether he knew about the meeting. His response: "No, I didn't know anything about the meeting…. must have been a very unimportant meeting, because I never even heard about it … nobody told me."(CNN / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 554: Trump tweeted that he "did NOT know" in advance about Trump Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting , disputing Michael Cohen's assertion that he did and accusing him of "trying to make up stories." Cohen said he's willing to testify that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. In July 2017, it was reported that Trump personally dictated Trump Jr.'s statement about the latter's meeting with the Russian lawyer, claiming they had "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children." (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Cohen suggested that federal prosecutors in New York are investigating an unspecified crime involving Trump that has not been made public yet. Cohen said he has "been asked by them not to discuss, and not to talk about these issues." Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York recently issued a request for documents related to donations and spending by Trump's inaugural committee. Cohen also said prosecutors in New York are investigating conversations that Trump or his advisers had with Cohen after his hotel room was raided by the FBI in April 2018. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

4/ Cohen provided a copy of a $35,000 check that was personally signed by Trump in 2017 to reimburse him for paying off Stormy Daniels, who had alleged having an affair with Trump. Cohen also submitted copies of additional $35,000 checks that Trump Jr. and the COO of the Trump Organization made "to reimburse me for the hush money payments." Cohen said that Trump directed him to lie about the hush payments to Stormy Daniels by telling Congress that Trump had no knowledge of payments. Trump was president when this happened. (Washington Post / Axios / The Guardian)

5/ Cohen: "I've never been to Prague. I've never been to the Czech Republic."

  • 📌 Day 707: Michael Cohen's cell phone was briefly activated near Prague around time of the Russia meeting described in the Steele dossier, which purports that Cohen and one or more Kremlin officials met in or around the Czech capital to plot ways to limit discovery of the close "liaison" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Additionally, around the same period of late August or early September 2016, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up Russians remarking that Cohen was in Prague. The cell phone and eavesdropping evidence was shared with Robert Mueller. (McClatchy DC)

  • 📌Day 450: Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen made a secret trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, entering through Germany in "August or early September." Confirmation of the trip corroborates part of the Christopher Steele dossier that Cohen met with an ally of Putin. Cohen has denied that he has ever been in Prague and that he colluded with Russia during the campaign. (McClatchy DC)

6/ In October 2016, Cohen said he received a call from Hope Hicks asking for help dealing with the "Access Hollywood" tape, where Trump had bragged about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women, saying he'd "grab them by the p—y. You can do anything," because "when you're a star, they let you do it." Hicks told Cohen: "We want you to just spin this." (Washington Post)

7/ Cohen claimed that Trump asked him to threaten people "probably" 500 different people and entities over a decade.

  • The Florida Bar has opened an investigation into whether Rep. Matt Gaetz violated professional conduct rules by threatening Michael Cohen ahead of Cohen's congressional testimony. Yesterday, Gatez threatened Cohen with revealing Cohen's "girlfriends" over his testimony, adding that "maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat." (Daily Beast)

8/ Cohen said he never saw proof that Trump's tax returns were being audited, which was Trump's reasoning for not releasing his tax filings during the 2016 campaign. Cohen said he presumed that Trump did not want to release his tax returns because he "didn't want an entire group of think tanks, who are tax experts, to run through his returns and start ripping it to pieces" out of fear that he would then "end up in an audit and he'll ultimately have taxable consequences, penalties, and so on." (NBC News / The Guardian)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The House Oversight Committee wants to depose both Trump's long-time tax lawyer and the former deputy White House Counsel in charge of compliance and ethics. The panel wants to ask about Trump's legally mandated financial ethics disclosures for the payments made before the 2016 presidential election by Cohen to buy the silence of women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. (Reuters)

  2. Trump met with Kim Jong-Un in Vietnam for the first day of his second summit with the North Korean dictator. Trump called Kim a "great leader" and promised to help North Korea to become a "great economic power." At a dinner between the two men, Trump said he believes the summit will "lead to a wonderful, really a wonderful situation long term." (Daily Beast / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  3. The White House banned four U.S. journalists from covering Trump's dinner with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un after they shouted questions earlier in the day. Reporters from the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters were excluded because of what White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said were "sensitivities over shouted questions in the previous sprays." (Washington Post / Politico)

  4. The House passed legislation mandating federal criminal background checks on all gun sales – the most significant gun control measure in more than two decades. The Senate, however, is unlikely to take up the measure and, even if it does, Trump has already said he would veto it because they impose unreasonable requirements on gun owners. (Politico / NPR / BuzzFeed News)

  5. Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has agreed to return to Congress and meet with lawmakers behind closed doors to "clarify" parts of his previous public testimony, during which he claimed he never made "any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel's investigation or any other investigation" to Trump. The House Judiciary Committee, however, believes it has evidence that Trump asked Whitaker while he was acting AG whether he could install a Trump ally to oversee the investigation into Michael Cohen. (Wall Street Journal)

  6. Pence's new chief of staff disparaged people with HIV and AIDS in an early '90s college newspaper column, claiming that the transmission of the disease was largely the result of "repugnant" homosexual intercourse. The column was published in The Spectator, a conservative student newspaper that Marc Short started as an undergraduate in 1989. Short served as an editor for the publication until he graduated in 1992. (Daily Beast)

  7. 68% of Americans say they want the Robert Mueller report to be made public, while 10% say it shouldn’t be made public, and 22% are undecided. (Politico)


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