Author: Olivia Branan
Michael D. Cohen, former lawyer to U.S. President Donald Trump, presented a testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Feb. 27. He released endless details on Trump, throwing in personal details about how the President was a “racist,” a “cheat” and a “conman.” Legal experts believe the many allegations in Cohen’s testimony could lead to deeper legal issues for the commander-in-chief.
Cohen, who pleaded guilty for lying to Congress, will face three years in federal prison. Along with his plea, he agreed to release information on the President that could potentially aid investigators in answering the unanswered legal questions regarding Mr. Trump’s campaign finances and possible obstruction of justice. However, some critics question the legitimacy of Cohen’s testimony, because he also previously lied to Congress.
Cohen was the first to say that Donald Trump knew in advance about the correspondence between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Stone and Assange communicated in 2016 about the release of problematic emails, recovered by Russian hackers, that would look bad for the Democratic campaign. This eventually led to Stone’s arrest, which could lead to trouble for the President if evidence of his involvement is found. If proven, CNN analyst Elie Honig stated, “that could make, depending on the specifics, Trump a co-conspirator.”
A major topic at the testimony was the Trump Tower real estate deal in Moscow. Beforehand, Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced that Cohen lied to Congress on three separate occasions about Mr. Trump’s negotiations with Russia. “Mr. Trump had made clear to me through his personal statements to me that we both knew to be false,” Cohen claimed, “And through his lies to the country that he wanted me to lie.” This statement, if true, concludes the President willingly let his lawyer lie to Congress.
Cohen also claimed he was reimbursed $130,000 in hush money that had gone to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who allegedly had an affair with Trump. According to the New York Times, electoral law professor and expert, Richard L. Hasin, claimed that this statement could possibly be used as evidence in favor of a violation of campaign finance laws.
What do all of these allegations mean for Donald Trump? The Department of Justice states that a sitting U.S. president cannot be indicted. However, the DOJ can still publicize any evidence and findings against Mr. Trump, and although it cannot indict the President, other groups can. For instance, The House Intelligence Committee wrote the DOJ a letter: simply put, it stated conclusions drawn by the DOJ regarding the Cohen testimony should be released to Congress so that they can decide what to do with it.
Cohen’s testimony brought a personal view of the President that could pose potential problems for Trump. If anything, recent statements show that the ongoing Mueller investigation, the Special Counsel Probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, is not the only thing Trump has to worry about. Cohen’s report opens up new doors for investigators with previously unanswered questions; it is up to them to find the truth.