Five Key Moments In Trump Impeachment Hearing, Day 1

US President Donald Trump talks to the media on the South Lawn upon his return to the White House by Marine One, in Washington, DC, November 3, 2019, after returning from a trip to New York. Olivier Douliery / AFP

 

During hours of detailed and at times dramatic public testimony Wednesday, two star witnesses shed light on US President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against him.

American viewers finally heard firsthand from key figures in the Ukraine scandal, beginning with Washington’s top envoy to Kiev William Taylor, and deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent.

Here are five key moments in the nationally televised impeachment hearing:

New revelations

A crucial surprise came when Taylor revealed a phone call between Trump and another diplomat occurred one day after the president’s controversial July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Taylor said his staffer was with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and overheard Trump on the call “asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations” of Democratic rival Joe Biden.

The staffer asked Sondland what Trump thought about Ukraine. “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cared more about the investigations of Biden, which (Trump lawyer Rudy) Giuliani was pressing for,” than about Ukraine itself, Taylor added.

The revelation is important because it highlights Trump’s knowledge about the effort to get Kiev to probe the Bidens and deflates a Trump defense that he “hardly” knows Sondland, as he said last week.

Republican attacks

Republicans accused the witnesses of being out-of-touch bureaucrats too removed from Trump’s inner circle to speak authoritatively about what happened, or to know the president’s intentions.

Trump loyalist Jim Jordan, aggressively questioning Taylor, sought to paint a muddled picture of Ukrainian-related discussions, including Taylor’s communications with Sondland.

“We’ve got six people having four conversations in one sentence,” Jordan told Taylor, referring to closed-door testimony by Sondland, “and you told me this is where you got your clear understanding?”

The intelligence panel’s top Republican Devin Nunes meanwhile attempted to discredit the Democratic effort as “nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime.”

Biden wrongdoing? ‘None’

In his call with Zelensky, Trump urged his counterpart to “look into” possible wrongdoing by Biden, whose son Hunter was on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma when his father was vice president.

Republicans have used that talking point to suggest the Bidens were involved in corruption. No such evidence has emerged.

When the Democratic counsel asked Kent whether there were any facts to support those allegations, Kent replied, “None whatsoever,” adding that Biden acted in accordance with official US policy.

Kent did say he raised concerns with Biden’s staff that his son’s status with Burisma “could create the perception of a conflict of interest.”

‘Irregular’ channel

Taylor spoke of an irregular channel, set up by Giuliani, that “undercut” official US policy with Ukraine while seeking to help the president politically.

Washington officially supported Ukraine receiving military aid, in particular to counter Russian aggression, but the witnesses warned that Giuliani was seeking to condition such aid with Kiev launching politically motivated investigations.

“I began to sense that the two decision-making channels — the regular and irregular — were at odds,” Taylor said.

He also said he told the administration that “withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign… would be crazy.”

Ukraine’s challenges

Often overlooked in the impeachment drama is the security situation in Ukraine, which is facing off against Russia’s military. Kiev also accuses the Kremlin of supporting pro-Moscow rebels.

Taylor reminded lawmakers and viewers that “even as we sit here today,” Ukraine is under daily attack from Russia-backed forces.

Just last week, he added, he visited the front lines on a day that a Ukrainian soldier was killed.

Had the military aid been frozen, it would have severely weakened Zelensky in negotiations with Russia and on the battlefield, Taylor said.

Impeachment: The Allegations Against US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump talks to the media on the South Lawn upon his return to the White House by Marine One, in Washington, DC, November 3, 2019, after returning from a trip to New York. Olivier Douliery / AFP

 

The impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump in the US House of Representatives moves to public hearings on Wednesday.

Trump is threatened with removal from office over allegations that he abused his powers and broke the law by pressuring Ukraine to supply damaging information on rival Democrats and possible 2020 presidential election challenger Joe Biden.

The evidence covers a series of events from April 2019 when Zelensky was elected, and both sides sought to reboot Washington-Kiev relations. Zelensky sought aid and a meeting with the US leader; Trump sought “investigations.”

Giuliani machinations

Trump gave the Ukraine leader a congratulatory phone call on April 19. Days later, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said online and in public that the US wanted Ukraine to investigate Burisma, the energy company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter served for five years until April 2019.

Giuliani also called for an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine helped the Democrats against Trump in the 2016 election.

“Explain to me why Biden shouldn’t be investigated if his son got millions from a Russian loving crooked Ukrainian oligarch while He was VP and point man for Ukraine,” Giuliani tweeted on May 10.

Giuliani’s immediate impact was in getting Trump to remove US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who had resisted Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine policy.

Another result: Trump told Vice President Mike Pence not to attend Zelensky’s May 14 inauguration, sending Energy Secretary Rick Perry instead. According to a whistleblower complaint in August, that downgrade was meant to signal to the new government that Trump wanted the investigations.

July 10 meeting

In a July 10 meeting in the office of White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, told Ukrainian officials that a high profile meeting they sought between Zelensky and Trump was contingent on “investigations in the energy sector” and later referenced “Burisma”.

Sondland told the Ukrainians the alleged quid pro quo was authorized by Trump’s right-hand man, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

“We have an agreement with the chief of staff for a meeting if these investigations in the energy sector start,” Sondland told the Ukrainians, according to witnesses.

Bolton, who objected to the linkage, immediately cut the meeting short, but Sondland continued to make the point in a subsequent meeting, witnesses said.

Aid suspension

On July 19 Mulvaney, who also heads the White House budget office, froze a military aid package for Ukraine worth $391 million dollars. He told budget officials it was at the order of Trump, but did not explain the reason. But in October Mulvaney told reporters it was linked to investigations, and said there was nothing wrong with the quid pro quo.

July 25 phone call

On July 25 Trump spoke again by phone with Zelensky. According to a rough summary of the call released by the White House, he made clear he wanted Ukraine to open the investigations, and hinted at the linkage with assistance and a face-to-face meeting.

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump said.

Trump made direct reference to the story that Ukraine interferred in the 2016 election helping rival Democrats.

“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation,” Trump said. “It’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”

Trump added that “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son… A lot of people want to find out about that,” he said, proposing Kiev cooperate with US Attorney General Bill Barr.

“The United States has been very, very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.”

Text messages

After the July 25 call, Sondland pressed on Kiev the need for investigations. Text messages between Sondland and other US diplomats show he was focused on Trump’s insistence on “the deliverable” — the investigations as a quid pro quo for the military aid.

“I think potus (Trump) really wants the deliverable,” he wrote on August 9.

In August he helped arrange a prepared statement for Zelensky to deliver that would satisfy Trump.

The statement, according to a August 13 text, was to read: “We intend to initiate and complete a transparent and unbiased investigation of all available facts and episodes, including those involving Burisma and the 2016 US elections, which in turn will prevent the recurrence of this problem in the future.”

Seeing that, Sondland wrote: “Perfect.”

That statement was never delivered. On September 1 Sondland told Zelensky advisor Andriy Yermak that military aid would not be released until Kiev signalled the investigations into Biden and 2016.

Turkey Summons US Envoy Over ‘Armenian Genocide’ Recognition

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

 

Turkey on Wednesday summoned the US ambassador to Ankara over a resolution passed by the US House of Representatives officially recognising the “Armenian genocide”, officials at the Turkish foreign ministry said.

The US Ambassador to Ankara David Satterfield was summoned to the foreign ministry over “a resolution that lacks any historical or legal basis” and a bill that imposes sanctions over Turkey’s military operation in Syria, the officials said.

Turkey Rejects US Recognition Of ‘Armenian Genocide’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey on Wednesday rejected the US House of Representatives’ official recognition of the “Armenian Genocide”, warning it risks harming ties “at an extremely fragile time” for international and regional security.

“As a meaningless political step, its sole addressees are the Armenian lobby and anti Turkey groups,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We believe that American friends of Turkey who support the continuation of the alliance and friendly relations will question this grave mistake and those who are responsible will be judged by the conscience of the American people,” it added.

US House To Vote Thursday On Trump Impeachment Procedures

 

The US House of Representatives will vote Thursday on a resolution that formalizes the path forward in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, including upcoming public hearings, a senior Democratic aide said.

The measure will “lay out the next steps for the inquiry,” the aide told AFP Monday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed fellow Democrats about the plan, which appears aimed at pushing back against Trump and Republicans who have argued an impeachment proceeding lacks authorization without a full floor vote.

“This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people… outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to lawmakers.

Trump Accuses Democrats Of Wasting Time With Impeachment ‘Bullshit’

 

President Donald Trump accused the Democratic Party on Wednesday of wasting time on the impeachment probe sparked by the Ukraine scandal engulfing the White House, dismissing the inquiry as “bullshit.”

“The Do-Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306.

“Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!”

Trump repeatedly misstates the Electoral College vote in his 2016 presidential race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. The official count was 304 to 227.

Impeachment Fight Escalates As Trump Calls Probe A ‘Coup’

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, announces a formal impeachment inquiry of US President Donald Trump on September 24, 2019, in Washington, DC.  MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

As Congress escalates its impeachment probe into the Ukraine scandal engulfing his presidency, President Donald Trump faces the White House press corps Wednesday on an investigation he has branded a “coup.”

The power struggle between Trump, who is accused of leaning on Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on one of his main 2020 election rivals, and congressional Democrats appears to be entering ever more volatile territory.

Trump insists that he did nothing wrong in a phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky and on Wednesday he got support from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who said he saw “nothing compromising” in the conversation.

Given Trump’s controversial history with Putin, it was unlikely that the Kremlin leader’s backing would do much to calm waters back in Washington.

Trump has gone all out in his resistance, using language that would once have been inconceivable for a president, including his claim late Tuesday on Twitter that this is “not an impeachment, it is a COUP.”

It is “intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms,” Trump said.

After keeping pronouncements mostly to Twitter over the last week, Trump was due to give a press conference alongside visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

He may also talk to journalists earlier when Niinisto arrives at around midday in Washington (1600 GMT).

 Congress pushes back 

Trump is accused of having pressured Zelensky to help him by opening a corruption investigation against leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in a July 25 phone call. He is alleged to have suggested that military equipment Ukraine sought to beef up its defenses against Russia would be contingent on him getting that favor.

A whistleblower, so far only identified as someone from the intelligence services, went to the authorities with concerns about the phone call, triggering the impeachment inquiry.

Trump has likened the whistleblower to a spy and called for his or her identity to be made public, although by law whistleblowers are protected. He has suggested that the lead congressional investigator overseeing the impeachment inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam  Schiff, should be arrested for “treason.”

Trump has also retweeted a warning that his removal from office could trigger “civil war.”

But Schiff and other Democrats in the lower house are pushing aggressively forward, with closed-doors hearings starting this week.

The State Department was due to brief congressional committees Wednesday on what it said were documents “related to the State Department and Ukraine.”

It was not clear what that would entail, but the State Department is closely caught up in the probe, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirming Wednesday previous reports that he listened in during the Zelensky call.

Earlier, Pompeo meanwhile accused Democrats of trying to “intimidate” and “bully” State Department employees. Democrats said he was “stonewalling” their investigation.

 First testimony 

Pompeo and Trump’s controversial personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been subpoenaed to provide documents. Five diplomats have so far been summoned to testify.

Pompeo suggested that the committees could be forced to subpoena the five officials, and that the State Department and White House could seek to limit what they can talk about.

“I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead,” Pompeo said.

News reports said the State Department’s former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, would testify Thursday and that the ex-ambassador to Kiev, Marie Yovanovitch, would appear behind closed doors on October 11.

Volker had been sought by Giuliani to help pressure Zelensky, while Yovanovitch was removed earlier this year as ambassador after she reportedly resisted that effort.

Pompeo himself risks greater pressure after the Democratic heads of the three investigating congressional committees said his being in on the phone call made him “a fact witness.”

AFP

‘We Will Not Be Silenced’: US Congresswomen Targeted By Trump Politics

 

US congresswomen targeted in remarks by Donald Trump said Monday that the president is promoting a “white nationalist agenda,” and vowed they would not be “silenced.”

Trump had stepped up his attacks on the four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they’re not happy in the United States, “they can leave,” and accusing them of having “love” for US “enemies like Al-Qaeda.”

“All they do is complain,” Trump told reporters at a White House event featuring products “Made in America.”

“These are people that hate our country,” he said of the four lawmakers. “If you’re not happy here, you can leave.”

The US President has since come under fire from Democrats and even some members of his own Republican Party.

Asked by a reporter whether he was concerned that many people saw his comments as racist, Trump said: “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”

Several hours after his remarks, the four — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — hit back at a news conference.

Pressley condemned Trump’s “xenophobic and bigoted” comments and said “we will not be silenced.”

Omar said Trump made a “blatantly racist attack” on four lawmakers “of color.” “This is the agenda of white nationalists,” she said.

Omar and Tlaib repeated calls for Trump to be impeached.

Democratic congressman Al Green, of Texas, separately said he would bring an impeachment vote to the House floor this month “for bigotry in policy, harmful to our society.”

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), speaks while Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) listen during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, DC.  AFP.

‘Destructive’

The president first attacked the lawmakers — all but one of whom were born in America — with a series of tweets on Sunday, saying they should “go back” to their countries of origin.

His comments prompted critical reactions from foreign leaders, and outrage at home from Democrats — while Republicans were initially silent.

On Monday, several of his party faithful began to speak up.

“My view is that what was said and what was tweeted was destructive, was demeaning, was disunifying, and frankly it was very wrong,” said Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah.

“There is no excuse for the president’s spiteful comments — they were absolutely unacceptable and this needs to stop,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska. “We must demand a higher standard of decorum and decency.”

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she disagreed with the policies espoused by the “far-left” Democratic lawmakers, but that Trump was “way over the line.”

For Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, “the citizenship of all four is as valid as mine.” He said “they are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be.”

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) pauses while speaking as Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) react during a press conference at the U.S. AFP

Texan Will Hurd, the only black Republican in the House of Representatives, told CNN that Trump’s behavior was “unbecoming of the leader of the free world.”

And Senator Tim Scott, a black Republican from South Carolina, criticized the president for using “unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the latest international leader to condemn Trump’s tweets.

“I completely and utterly disagree with him,” she told Radio New Zealand, noting that her country welcomed diversity in the corridors of power.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Britain’s Theresa May also expressed disapproval.

‘Cold, hard strategy’

Trump’s comments appear to be aimed at galvanizing his mostly white electoral base ahead of the 2020 presidential vote — while also stoking racial tensions and divisions among his political opponents.

“With his deliberate, racist outburst, @realDonaldTrump wants to raise the profile of his targets, drive Dems to defend them and make them emblematic of the entire party,” said David Axelrod, who served as chief strategist for Barack Obama’s two White House campaigns.

In his initial Twitter attack on Sunday, Trump — who before becoming president pushed the racist “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama was not born on US soil — said the congresswomen came from corrupt, poorly managed countries to which they should return.

Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley were all born in the United States while Omar arrived as a refugee from war-torn Somalia, which she fled as a child.

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, denounced Trump as the most “openly racist and divisive” president in US history.

“Go home to your country? It’s sickening, it’s embarrassing,” Biden said.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks as Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) listen during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. AFP

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, has had a tenuous relationship with the four left-leaning congresswomen, but she jumped to their defense.

Pelosi said she was seeking Republicans to co-sponsor a House resolution “condemning the president’s xenophobic tweets” and “characterization of immigrants.”

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said he planned to do the same in the Senate.

AFP

You Can’t Impeach Me Over Mueller Report, Trump Tells Congress

US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

 

US President Donald Trump said Monday that Congress “can’t impeach” him over the findings of the Mueller report into Russian election meddling and his alleged attempts to hamper the investigation.

Defiantly insisting that he did nothing wrong, Trump also denied a portrait of dysfunction in the White House where disobedient aides are said to have saved him from committing obstruction of justice by refusing to carry out his instructions.

Asked by reporters at a White House Easter event for children whether the prospect of impeachment worries him, Trump replied: “Not even a little bit.”

“Only high crimes and misdemeanours can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach,” Trump stated earlier on Twitter.

READ ALSO: US Offers $10M Reward For Information On Hezbollah

However, Democrats believe the Mueller report has revealed serious wrongdoing by the president and have yet to decide on impeachment.

The report confirmed that Russian operatives had attempted to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, including by hacking into email accounts.

The probe also found that Trump’s campaign took advantage of the impact on Clinton, but did not deliberately reach out to collude with the Russians.

During the investigation, Trump repeatedly tried to hamper Mueller’s work, the report said.

But Mueller did not rule one way or the other on whether Trump had committed the crime of obstruction of justice, effectively leaving the matter to Congress.

Democrats, who control the lower house, are so far mostly holding off from calling for impeachment proceedings, which would be immensely divisive ahead of 2020 presidential elections.

However, Democratic 2020 hopeful Kamala Harris said during a presidential town hall broadcast on CNN Monday night that she believes “Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.”

That made her the second candidate to do so after Senator Elizabeth Warren called for impeachment proceedings last week.

But her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders said at the same event that while he supports a “thorough investigation,” he is concerned it may become a distraction in the bid to oust Trump in the 2020 election.

“If for the next year, year and a half, going right into the heart of the election, all that the Congress is talking about is impeaching Trump… and we’re not talking about… all of the issues that concern ordinary Americans, what I worry about is that works to Trump’s advantage,” Sanders said.

Powerful House committees still plan to dig further into the scandal and are pushing to be given the whole Mueller report, including parts currently blacked out for security or legal reasons.

“While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler issued a subpoena on Monday for former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify. McGahn was a key witness in the Mueller probe and will likely be asked about Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.

 ‘Nobody disobeys’ Trump? 

Trump is spinning the Mueller report as a complete exoneration. He has gone as far as saying repeatedly that the probe was a political hit job amounting to “treason” and “spying.”

Democrats, however, say the report has demonstrated in detail that Trump is unfit for office, even if the evidence would be insufficient to prove crimes in court.

Whatever the truth, Mueller’s report has inflicted damage on the former real estate tycoon and reality TV showman’s reputation through stories of close aides manoeuvring to stop the president from going too far in his attempts to slow down the probe.

“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is large because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote in his report.

This narrative clearly annoys Trump, who has built a career on his image as a ruthless boss, famous during his television performances on “The Apprentice” for telling contestants: “You’re fired!”

Even though the aides allegedly disobeyed him so that they could prevent more serious damage, Trump denied Monday that any sort of insubordination would be possible.

“Nobody disobeys my orders,” he said at the Easter event.

Trump also faces danger from congressional probes into his business interests and tax history, which — in a break with tradition — he has refused to make public.

On Monday, Trump and his businesses filed a Washington federal court lawsuit to try and block a subpoena issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee to gain access to their financial records.

AFP

Other Illegal Acts Involving Trump Being Probed, Says Cohen

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 27, 2019. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Donald Trump’s former personal attorney told Congress Wednesday US authorities are investigating illegal activities involving the president beyond those that have already been made public.

Cohen had spent hours addressing accusations that Trump paid hush money to two women in 2016, and directed his lawyer to lie about negotiations over a Moscow business deal, and was asked if he was aware of “any other wrongdoing or illegal act” regarding Trump that had yet to be addressed in the hearing.

READ ALSO: Trump Is A ‘Racist,’ ‘Conman’ And ‘Cheat,’ Ex-Lawyer Tells Congress

He replied that he had, but could not discuss the allegations because “those are part of the investigation that are currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.”

AFP

Democrat Vows To Probe Trump Lawyer’s Alleged Lies To Congress

 Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney for US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

A top Democrat in the US Congress has vowed to look into a report that President Donald Trump ordered his personal attorney to lie to Congress to hide dealings with Russia.

Adam Schiff, who heads the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives, was reacting to a report late Thursday by the online site BuzzFeed that Trump ordered lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress in 2017 about talks to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The allegation that the President of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business dealings with Russia is among the most serious to date,” Schiff tweeted.

“We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.”

Trump also supported a Cohen plan to visit Russia during the presidential campaign to meet President Vladimir Putin to jump-start the Moscow tower negotiations according to BuzzFeed, which cites two unnamed federal law enforcement officials as sources.

The trip never materialized, and Trump has repeatedly and emphatically denied dealings with Russia during the campaign.

Cohen also provided Trump and two of his children — Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. — regular updates about the Moscow project, the sources told BuzzFeed.

Cohen, who was the real estate billionaire’s right-hand-man and fixer at his umbrella company the Trump Organization, in New York at the time, pleaded guilty last year to several charges including the violation of campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments ahead of the 2016 election to women who alleged extramarital affairs with Trump.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by stating that the Trump Moscow project ended in January 2016, long before Trump became the Republican presidential nominee, when it actually extended into June 2016.

The New York lawyer, 52, was sentenced to three years in jail for the campaign finance violation and other charges.

His incarceration has been delayed while he provides support to ongoing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and Trump’s finances.

Cohen is scheduled to testify to the House Oversight Committee, newly controlled by opposition Democrats, on February 7 about his work for Trump.

AFP

Ex-Trump Lawyer Cohen To Testify To Congress In February

Trump Denies Wrongdoing, Slams Cohen 'Stories' On Hush Payments
Michael Cohen                                                                                            Donald Trump 

 

 

President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen will testify in Congress next month, lawmakers said Thursday, posing a potential new threat to the president as the Russia collusion investigation increasingly menaces the White House.

The newly Democrat-controlled House Oversight Committee said Thursday that Cohen will testify in a public session on February 7.

“I thank Michael Cohen for agreeing to testify before the Oversight Committee voluntarily,” Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a statement.

AFP