Michael Cohen began his testimony with questions from Colleen Faherty of the New York attorney general’s office about the crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2018, including tax crimes, campaign violations and lying to Congress.
Cohen gave a lengthy answer about those crimes why he made public statements about the legitimacy of his conviction.
Cohen previously testified before Congress in 2019 about Trump’s involvement in the hush-money scheme involving both former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who alleged having affairs with Trump (Trump has denied the affairs).
“I acknowledge my complicity in the Stormy Daniels matter, but I never paid Karen McDougal,” Cohen said, explaining the payments to McDougal were made through AMI, the former owner of the National Enquirer.
Trump did not react when Cohen raised the hush-money payments and stared straight ahead at Cohen.
Cohen also said he lied to Congress when he testified in 2017 about how many times he spoke to Donald Trump about a Trump Tower Moscow project, when he said it was only three discussions and it was actually 10.
“I did that at the direction of in concert with and for the benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.
He said that statement was drafted in discussions with a list of people in Trump’s camp including Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Trump Org. legal counsel Alan Garten and others. Trump attorney Chris Kise objected to that statement, which was overruled by Judge Arthur Engoron.
Cohen said he felt he had to address the public information.
“When all of this started, it was overwhelming. The amount of disinformation misinformation, mal-information about me. It was overwhelming and enormous,” he said.
Despite public statements pushing back on the federal charges against him over the years, Cohen confirmed he eventually pleaded guilty and served a sentence taking responsibility for each of the counts he pleaded guilty to.