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10 big moments from Cohen’s testimony

President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen opened his testimony to the House Oversight Committee Feb. 27 with this statement.
President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen opened his testimony to the House Oversight Committee Feb. 27 with this statement.

There wasn’t a major bombshell in the first five hours of testimony from President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. But as he took questions from the House Government Oversight Committee on Wednesday, there were several eye-popping snippets involving Trump — some of which could open the door to more inquiries into the president.

Here are 10 major moments of Cohen’s testimony:

1. Cohen, under oath, implicated Trump in three crimes: bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations.

Cohen repeated that there was nothing he — or anyone else in the Trump orbit — did that Trump didn’t know about. He said Trump inflated his net worth to banks and media organizations. In addition, Cohen said Trump deflated the property values of his assets in order to pay less in taxes.


He said Trump knew every step of how the alleged hush money payments were made to Stormy Daniels during the presidential campaign. Trump, according to a check Cohen showed the committee, made payments while he was president to reimburse Cohen.

2. Cohen said there are other crimes Trump committed that are being federally investigated.

Cohen let the committee know that while the scope of the hearing did not include topics like Russia, he knew of other crimes he said the president committed — but he wasn’t at liberty to talk about because they were being currently investigated by federal prosecutors.

3. In his opening remarks, Cohen detailed a number of racist remarks that Trump had said in his presence during the decade they worked together.

According to Cohen, Trump once said black people “would never vote for him because they were too stupid,” and, during a drive through a “struggling neighborhood” in Chicago, he said “only black people could live that way.” (Trump has always denied he is racist.)


This accusation of racism — and not the potential felonies and lies — was what Republicans seized on to defend the president. At one point, Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, presented a longtime black staffer for Trump as proof he can’t be racist because the female aide said she had never heard him say racist things.

4. Trump lied on bank loan applications in order to make a bid to buy the Buffalo Bills professional football team, according to Cohen.

It’s illegal to lie on bank loan applications about income and assets. (Cohen knows a lot about this topic. He just pleaded guilty to bank fraud.) And on Wednesday, Cohen said Trump submitted inflated financial statements to Deutsche Bank in order to secure a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills. He also said Trump filed fake paperwork to insurance companies in order to reduce premiums.

5. Cohen will probably write a book.

Given that Cohen lost his law license Tuesday and will go to prison for three years, it may not be surprising to learn that he would entertain a lucrative book or movie deal. But Republican members on the committee asked him at least a half-dozen times whether he would be open to it and whether he would give all proceeds to charity. He said he was open to doing a book and he’ll keep the money, thank you.

6. Cohen said Trump was pursuing the Moscow Trump Tower throughout the campaign.


For the most part, Democrats on the committee, during the widely televised hearing, tried to get Cohen to tell stories about Trump and describe scenes of the president doing unflattering or illegal things.

Mueller’s special prosecution is reportedly focused on a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen previously lied to Congress about the project, saying it was stopped long before Trump became president. On Wednesday, he attempted to provide evidence that they were working on it during and throughout the campaign.

“He would look at me and say, ‘What is going on in Russia?’ ” Cohen said about the Moscow project. “And then he’d turn around and go to a rally and say he has no connection at all to Russia.”

7. Trump was aware of the WikiLeaks dump of Clinton campaign e-mails before they happened, Cohen said.

Cohen said he was in Trump’s office when longtime political consultant Roger Stone called to inform him that WikiLeaks had stolen e-mails and would release them soon.

8. Democrats are zeroing in on Trump’s tax returns.

Freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York used her time to question Cohen about allegations that Trump dodged taxes, potentially laying the groundwork for the committee to seek the president’s tax returns. Asking about providing inflated assets to insurance companies, Ocasio-Cortez said to Cohen,

“Where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we’d need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?”


“Yes, and you’d find it at the Trump Org,” Cohen said.

9. Meadows’ use of Lynne Patton as a rebuttal to racism charges against Trump drew ire.

In the final 30 seconds of her time, freshman Representative Ayanna Pressley asked Cohen a pointed question.

“Would you agree that someone could deny rental units to African-Americans, lead the birther movement, refer to the diaspora as ‘s-hole countries,’ and refer to white supremacists as ‘fine people,’ have a black friend and still be racist?”

“Yes,” Cohen replied.

1o. Meadows objected to comments from Representative Rashida Tlaib.

In perhaps the day’s most heated exchange of the hearing, Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan took issue, as did others before her, with Meadows bringing in Patton, a black woman, to the hearing. Meadows referenced Patton, who works at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in his questioning. She would not work for someone who was racist, Meadows said.

When it was her turn for questioning, Tlaib said, ‘‘Just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren’t racist ... the fact someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.’’

A visibly irate Meadows asked her statement be stricken from the record because it was a personal attack. Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committe chair, asked Tlaib to clarify that she wasn’t calling Meadows a racist. She denied doing that, but said bringing in Patton was a ‘‘racist act.”


Jaclyn Reiss of the Globe staff contributed. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp