After about two hours of testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, sought to turn the tables on the committee’s stonewalling Republicans. Lying and continuing to protect the president, Cohen warned, “puts you into the same position that I am in.”
Cohen, who reminded the committee of how long and deeply he was involved in Trump’s financial and personal affairs, also described the president’s company using words usually reserved for mobsters. “Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump,” he told committee members. “Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something, and that became the norm.”
Watch the full exchange between Cohen and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) above, and read the transcript below.
COHEN: I did the same thing that you’re doing now, for 10 years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years, and the fact that you pull up a news article that has no value to it and you want to use that as the premise for discrediting me, that I’m not the person that people called at 3 o’clock in the morning would make you inaccurate. In actuality would make you a liar, which puts you into the same position that I am in, and I can only warn people the more people that follow Mr. Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering.
… Look at what’s happened to me. I had a wonderful life. I have a beautiful wife. I have two amazing children. I achieved financial success by the age of 39. I didn’t go to work for Mr. Trump because I had to. I went to work for him because I wanted to. And I’ve lost it all. So if I’m not a “picture perfect”, that’s the picture that should be up there. If I’m not a picture perfect example of what not to do, that’s the example that I’m trying to set for my children. You make mistakes in life. And I’ve owned them and I’ve taken responsibility for them, and I’m paying a huge price, as is my family. So if that in and of itself isn’t enough to dissuade somebody from acting in the callous manner that I did, I’m not sure that that person has any—any chance. Very much like I’m in right now.
… But this destruction of our civility to one another is just—it’s out of control. And when he goes on Twitter and he starts bringing in my in-laws, my parents, my wife, what does he think is going to happen? He’s causing—He’s sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants. This is his country, becoming an autocrat, and hopefully something bad will happen to me on my children and my wife so that I will not be here and testify; that’s what his hope was it was, to intimidate me. And again I thank everybody who joined, and said that this is just not right
REP. COOPER: Have you ever seen Mr. Trump personally threaten people with physical harm?
COHEN: No. He would use others.
REP. COOPER: He would hire other people to do that?
COHEN: I’m not so sure that he had to hire them, they’re already working there. Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something, and that became the norm. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now in in this country. That’s exactly what’s happening here in government, sir.