Michael Cohen delivered a powerful warning to congressional Republicans running interference for President Donald Trump.
The former Trump Organization lawyer told GOP members of the House Oversight Committee that they were debasing themselves for the president, just as he had done for years, and he warned they, too, would one day regret it.
“There is a recurring refrain in your testimony that says, ‘and yet I continued to work for him,'” said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN). “But at some point you changed. What was the breaking point at which you decided to start telling the truth?”
Cohen said several factors had convinced him to turn on his longtime boss, for whom he infamously vowed to take a bullet.
“There are several factors — Helsinki, Charlottesville, watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another, putting up silly things like this,” Cohen said. “Really unbecoming of Congress. It’s that sort of behavior that I’m responsible for. I’m responsible for your silliness, because I did the same thing that you’re doing now, for 10 years.”
Cohen called out GOP lawmakers attempting to discredit his testimony to protect the president.
“I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years,” he continued, “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 it would make you a liar, which puts you in the same position that I am in.”
He then warned the president’s supporters that they, too, would one day regret their choice.
“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,” Cohen said.
Cohen said he’d lost everything he had worked for his entire life because he had chosen to serve Trump.
“I had a wonderful life,” he said. “I have a beautiful wife, I have two amazing children and 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 that in and of itself isn’t enough to dissuade somebody from acting in the callous manner that I did,” he added. I’m not sure that that person has any chance, very much like I’m in right now.”
Cohen said the president had told Americans exactly who he was, and many still refused to believe him.
“When Mr. Trump turned around early in the campaign and said, ‘I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it,’ I want to be very clear, he’s not joking,” Cohen said. “He’s telling you the truth — you don’t know him, I do. I’ve sat next to that man for 10 years, and I watched his back.”
Cohen admitted that he helped Trump win the election, but now he deeply regrets his decision.
“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?” Cohen said. “He’s sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants — this is his country. He’s becoming an autocrat.”
Cohen said he’d never seen Trump personally threaten someone with physical harm, but he said the president had directed others to do so for him.
“Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization was to protect Mr. Trump,” he said. “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 this country. It’s exactly what’s happening here in government.”
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