Trump 'impressed' by one thing Cohen said

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Michael Cohen Live Stream: Watch Ex-Trump Lawyer's House Testimony

President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday to speak behind closed doors with a congressional panel investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 US election, capping a week of testimony in which he leveled new allegations of wrongdoing at his former boss.

The first of six Trump aides charged in the Trump-Russia investigation to testify publicly about crimes committed during the 2016 campaign and in the months that followed, Cohen also delivered biting personal commentary on a president he said never expected to win in the first place.

Trump distanced himself from Cohen in a tweet from Hanoi, Vietnam, where he has traveled for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But Trump also praised Cohen for saying he had no "direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russian Federation".

This was the backdrop to Wednesday's remarkable theater, with the president's ex-fixer Michael Cohen spelling out Trump crimes old and new, with the parties lined up in their usual fashion.

But his claims have drawn the ire of Trump allies who have insisted that Cohen is not credible - and are now asking the Justice Department to investigate him for potentially having lied to Congress again, during a public hearing this week. The panel has been probing Russian election meddling and any collusion with the Trump campaign.

Cohen detailed reimbursements from Trump for hush money Cohen paid weeks before the election to keep adult-film star Stormy Daniels quiet about an affair she alleges she had with Trump more than a decade ago.

"And I said: 'I wonder why he didn't lie about that, too, like he did about everything else?'"

Cohen said he had briefed Ivanka Trump and Trump Jr. approximately 10 times about the business deal.

He also pleaded guilty to fraud and campaign finance violations.

And he named two private lawyers working for Trump and his family - Jay Sekulow and Abbe Lowell - as having edited the false testimony on the Moscow Trump Tower project that led to Cohen's conviction for lying to Congress.

Cohen testified, "I was extremely proud to be the personal attorney for the president of the United States of America".

Cohen is due to begin serving a three-year prison sentence for lying to Congress about the Moscow tower project, along with other charges. "He is a cheat", who inflated his assets when it suited him "and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes", Cohen said.

Cohen also said Trump had him lie to first lady Melania Trump about them. Sekulow said that claim was "completely false".

Trump's children emerged as key figures in a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and as their father's top defenders. Stone said Julian Assange had told him that within a couple of days there would be a massive email dump that would hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Cohen said Mr Trump responded along the lines of "wouldn't that be great".

As Republicans blasted him as a convicted liar, a mostly unrattled Cohen sought to blunt the attacks by repeatedly acknowledging his own failings.

He added that Trump would say, "Michael, it never happened" or "It's a lie".

Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world.

Cohen showed up in the Capitol Wednesday just as Trump touched down.

The messages - which USA authorities say were hacked by Russian intelligence - caused a damaging rift among Democrats by exposing how party officials preferred Mrs Clinton over her challenger for the presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders. He said, no collusion with the Russian hoax.

Federal prosecutors in NY have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange payments to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Rep. Jim Jordan of OH, the ranking Republican on the oversight committee, and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., also a panel member, list six complaints about Cohen's testimony that they think might rise to the level of perjury or false statements to Congress.

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