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Cohen To Detail Alleged Trump Lawbreaking. White House: He's A 'Convicted Liar'

Michael Cohen (left), President Trump's former lawyer, arrives to testify before a closed hearing of the Senate intelligence committee, with his lawyer Lanny Davis on Tuesday.
Alex Brandon
Michael Cohen (left), President Trump's former lawyer, arrives to testify before a closed hearing of the Senate intelligence committee, with his lawyer Lanny Davis on Tuesday.

Michael Cohen intends to give Congress an account of what he calls President Trump's "lies, racism and cheating" — including lawbreaking since Trump took office, a person familiar with his plans said on Tuesday.

Trump's former lawyer has closed-door meetings scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday with the congressional intelligence committees. But Cohen is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House oversight committee in a highly anticipated public hearing that will be broadcast live nationally.

At that session, Cohen is prepared to present evidence, including documents, related to what Cohen says is criminal conduct by Trump from both before and after he became president, the person said. The individual spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the planned testimony.

Cohen's Hill appearances come about two months before he is scheduled to report to federal prison to serve a three-year sentence. He pleaded guilty to several crimes, including tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress. His credibility is expected to be a central focus at the oversight committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, particularly for Republicans.

The White House issued a statement on Tuesday dismissing Cohen's allegations before he even made them.

"Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements," said press secretary Sarah Sanders.

"Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It's laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."

Some of the activity Cohen is expected to describe is already familiar: Cohen has admitted to negotiating payments to two women ahead of Election Day to keep them silent about sexual relationships they said they had with Trump years before.

Trump has acknowledged one of the payments but denied the underlying claims about the relationships and says that his dealings weren't illegal.

Cohen also has admitted that he lied to Congress when he said that Trump's business negotiations with Russians over a potential Trump Tower in Moscow were over by the beginning of 2016.

Actually, he later said, they ran through the summer, nearly to the point at which Trump became the Republican Party's nominee.

That's important because it meant Trump's camp was negotiating with Russians at the same time that Moscow was interfering in the 2016 presidential election with the ultimate aim of helping him. Cohen's updated account also undercut the denials that Trump made in 2016 about having anything to do with Russia.

Trump has said he decided on his own not to pursue the Trump Tower Moscow project and, indeed, the building was never built. Trump also has denied that his statements weren't correct because the project never was realized.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.
Philip Ewing is an election security editor with NPR's Washington Desk. He helps oversee coverage of election security, voting, disinformation, active measures and other issues. Ewing joined the Washington Desk from his previous role as NPR's national security editor, in which he helped direct coverage of the military, intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and more. He came to NPR in 2015 from Politico, where he was a Pentagon correspondent and defense editor. Previously, he served as managing editor of Military.com, and before that he covered the U.S. Navy for the Military Times newspapers.