President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday — and the rhetorical fireworks were instant and nonstop.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s chairman, took a not-so-thinly veiled shot at Republicans, accusing GOP members on his panel of covering for Trump.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the days of this committee protecting the president at all costs are over. They’re over,” Cummings said.
Cohen has already been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. He is scheduled to begin his sentence on May 6.
“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. He is a cheat,” Cohen said in his opening statement.
Here are some of the most notable lines and exchanges from Cohen’s testimony before Congress:
TRUMP … THE ‘ENIGMA’
“Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all,” Cohen said. “But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.”
CANDIDATE TRUMP KNEW ABOUT A MASSIVE EMAIL DUMP THAT WOULD BE HARMFUL TO HILLARY CLINTON’S CAMPAIGN
“Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails,” Cohen said.
COHEN TO JORDAN: ‘SHAME ON YOU’
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Cohen’s “remorse is minimal, his instinct to blame others is strong.” Cohen pushed back on the Ohio lawmaker: “I said I plead guilty and I take responsibility for my actions … Shame on you, Mr. Jordan.”
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., called Cohen a “disgraced lawyer” and urged everyone to disbelieve Cohen. The Arizona lawmaker even attacked Cohen with a schoolyard taunt: “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”
OR JUST A FOOL …
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., asked Cohen that if Trump is a cheat, then what’s he?
“A fool,” Cohen said.
THE FIRST LADY DESERVES BETTER
Cohen said he was particularly sorry for lying to Melania Trump in covering up the president’s alleged affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels: “Lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly — and she did not deserve that.”
ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT?
In response to hostile questions from Republicans, Cohen asked why the GOP had no queries about Trump? “I find it interesting that not one question from you today has been about Mr. Trump,” Cohen said, adding, “That’s why I thought I was coming today.”
THREATS, PLENTY OF THREATS
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., asked Trump’s former lawyer, “How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf?” She asked if it was 50, 100, 200 or 500 times. He agreed with 500.
NOT A RACIST!
One of the most explosive moments came when Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, said, “Just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them does not mean they aren’t racist.”
Tlaib was apparently referring to the president and Lynne Patton, an African-American official at HUD, who was introduced earlier in the hearing by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., to counter Cohen’s assertion that Trump is racist.
Meadows, his face red and eyes appearing watery, took Tlaib’s comments as an accusation that he was racist, which he strongly disputed.
“I am not calling the gentlemen, Mr. Meadows, a racist,” responded Tlaib, which appeared to calm Meadows.
‘… WILL NEVER BE A PEACEFUL TRANSITION OF POWER…’
Cohen said in his closing statement that he fears for the future of the country’s democracy if Trump loses re-election.
“Indeed, given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power,” Cohen said. “This is why I agreed to appear before you today.”