US: ‘Days of protecting Trump at all costs are over’ 0

President Donald Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen has spoken for the last time before heading to prison for a series of tax and campaign finance charges.

Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday was one of the most high-profile hearings during Trump’s tenure so far.

At the beginning of the hearing, Cohen was reminded by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings that “the days of…protecting the president at all costs are over.”

“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen said in his opening statement.

He also revealed “a copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account — after he became president — to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign.”

Dated August 1, 2017, the check was signed by President Trump for $35,000, indicating that the president was aware of the hush money Cohen was paying for him.

Cohen made payments during the 2016 campaign to two women – adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – to silence them from speaking publicly about affairs they had with Trump.

The former lawyer further expressed concerns about “presidential threats” against his family over the revelations as he was preparing to go to jail in May.

The former lawyer also accused Trump of having lied about his business dealings in Russia.

“Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump asserted on several occasions that, “I have nothing to do with Russia. I don’t have any jobs in Russia. I’m all over the world but we’re not involved in Russia.”

Last year, Cohen was sentenced to three years behind bars and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

Cohen’s testimony distracted media attention from Vietnam, where the president is holding his second summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.