Michael Cohen calls president Donald Trump a 'racist', 'conman' and 'cheat' while giving evidence to Congress

  • Video report by ITV News correspondent Juliet Bremner

Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen has described the president as being a "racist", "conman" and "cheat" while giving evidence to a Congress committee.

As part of his evidence, the former lawyer produced a personal cheque which showed Mr Trump, while president, had reimbursed Mr Cohen for hush money he had paid to a pornographic actress who he alleges had an affair with Mr Trump.

Mr Cohen says he did things for Mr Trump which he knew were wrong and admits he is ashamed of concealing the president's "illicit acts".

It was suggested by Mr Cohen that Mr Trump implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project.

Mr Cohen has pleaded guilty to Congress about the project, saying that Mr Trump knew he was negotiating with Russia during the most recent presidential election.

The former lawyer, who was debarred on Tuesday, said in his testimony that Mr Trump did not directly tell him to lie, but "he would look me in the eye and tell me there's no business in Russia, and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing".

“Today I am here to tell the truth about Mr Trump,” Cohen told Congress.

Mr Cohen stated to the committee that Mr Trump also had prior knowledge of the WikiLeaks emails damaging Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

"Mr Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails," Mr Cohen told the committee.

"In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr Trump put Mr Stone on the speakerphone.

"Mr Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr Trump responded by stating to the effect of 'wouldn’t that be great'."

Within his testimony, Mr Cohen broke down into sections his evidence to support his claims that the president is a "racist", "conman" and "cheat".

Stormy Daniels. Credit: AP

Mr Cohen provided a copy of a $35,000 cheque, dated 1 August 2017, signed by Mr Trump which was paid to the former lawyer to partly reimburse him for money given to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels to cover up an alleged affair between her and the president.

"He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did.

"Mr Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. I did that, too – without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family, or the public.

"I am providing a copy of a $35,000 cheque that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account on August 1, 2017 – when he was President of the United States – pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr Trump’s TV lawyer – for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf. This $35,000 cheque was one of 11 cheque instalments that was paid throughout the year – while he was President.

"The President of the United States thus wrote a personal cheque for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws."

Michael Cohen arrives. Credit: AP

Regarding the topic of Mr Trump being a racist, Mr Cohen said Mr Trump told him that black people were "too stupid" to vote for him.

Links between Mr Trump and Russia was another subject spoken about during the hearing.

Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort met with a Russian figure offering to provide information on Mrs Clinton, Mr Cohen told the committee.

“I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk – which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him,” Cohen says.

“I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: ‘The meeting is all set.’ I remember Mr. Trump saying, ‘Ok good…let me know.’”

Mr Cohen made a number of accusation about Donald Trump. Credit: PA

According to Mr Cohen, he was directed by the president to threaten Mr Trump's high school, his colleges, and College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores, despite having previously being critical of Barack Obama for not releasing his.

Mr Cohen, once the president's loyal attorney and fixer, has turned on his former boss and cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

He begins a three-year prison sentence in May after he pleaded guilty to lying to US congress in 2017 and committing campaign finance violations while he was working for Mr Trump.

Mr Trump, at a Vietnam hotel before a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and unable to ignore the drama playing out thousands of miles away, lashed out at Mr Cohen on Twitter, saying his lawyer "did bad things unrelated to Trump" and "is lying in order to reduce his prison time".