Trump Says Cohen's Hearing Drove Home One Point He Can Agree With
The president's former fixer, Michael Cohen, had some pretty damning things to say about his old boss during his hearing in front of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. So it's no surprise that Trump pushed back on almost everything Cohen testified to. In an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity on Thursday, Trump said Cohen's hearing was a “a terrible display of dishonesty.” But he did seem to agree with one point Cohen made.
"Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear," Cohen said during his opening statement on Wednesday, adding "But I have my suspicions."
While Trump described the hearing to Hannity in a pretty negative light, he commended Cohen for leaving the possibility of collusion unconfirmed. "He said no collusion. And I said, it’s funny, he lied about so many things, and yet he could have said — he might as well lie about that one, too," Trump told Hannity. "But he said no collusion."
At an earlier press conference in Hanoi, where the president had been for the second North Korea summit, Trump said he was "impressed" with that part of the testimony. "I was actually impressed that he didn’t say, 'Well, I think there was collusion,'" Trump said. "He said ‘no collusion.' I was impressed by that."
The way Trump characterized Cohen's testimony — that Cohen gave a blanket denial that any collusion existed — isn't exactly true to the transcript. In fact, Cohen went on in his opening statement to list the suspicions he had that Trump's campaign might have had ties to Russia, including that Trump knew about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting in Trump Tower.
From an overheard conversation between Trump and his son, Cohen said, "I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representatives when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day, and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about."
Additionally, Cohen testified that he was present during a phone call Trump had with his associate Roger Stone, who has since been indicted for acting as a go-between for Trump's campaign and WikiLeaks, in an effort to get damaging emails from the Clinton campaign published.
"Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with [WikiLeaks founder] 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," Cohen told the committee. "Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of 'wouldn’t that be great.'"
Cohen even went so far as to suggest that the entire Trump family has problematic ties to Russia. "If Trump and his daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr. are involved in the Russian Trump Tower deal, is it possible the whole family is conflicted or compromised with a foreign adversary in the months before the election?" Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz asked on Wednesday. Cohen's reply was succinct: "Yes." Trump, for his part, has repeatedly referred to the Russia probe as a "witch hunt."