Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former fixer, will testify to Congress about the president's character and reveal attitudes held by Trump that Cohen's lawyer believes could turn voters against the president in the 2020 election.
Lanny Davis said Tuesday that Cohen can't talk to lawmakers about what he told Robert Mueller for the special counsel's Russia investigation but said Cohen will reveal how Trump is 'bigoted,' 'treats people badly,' and talk about he's heard the president say disparaging things about black people behind closed doors.
'I believe the issue in 2020 which Michael Cohen can speak to better than anyone is the man lacks character,' Davis told ABC's 'The Investigation' podcast. 'He speaks in bigoted words in private, which Michael Cohen will tell you. He treats people badly. He has no moral character in defrauding people in his businesses, and going bankrupt, and taking cash out, and putting people out of work. He lacks the moral compass that we expect in our presidents.'
Davis argued Cohen's testimony can sway more voters than any of the Democrats' investigations into Trump.
'That is a lot more powerful that will occur at the polls than impeachment proceedings or congressional investigations,' Davis said.
He added that Cohen has heard the president make unfavorable comments about black people behind closed doors.
'There are a couple of things he will say that he heard Donald Trump say behind closed doors about black people that people - even his supporters - will say 'yup, that's Trump,'' Davis said.
House Democrats are planning a number of probes into the president's activities. And those will include not only the role Russia played in the 2016 election but also Trump's immigration policy, security clearances for administration staff, and possible conflicts of interest.
Davis spoke to ABC News in a wide-ranging interview about why he became Cohen's lawyer, his client's state of mind, and what Cohen could tell lawmakers when he testifies before Congress.
Davis, a longtime Democrat who was special counsel to President Bill Clinton during his presidency, said the Democratic Party needs to be careful or it could overplay its hand when it comes to investigating President Trump.
'We could overreach,' Davis said. 'And we have a tendency, just like the Republicans, to follow the most extreme voices in our base. And there is a danger that we will do that.'
Cohen has pledged to talk to the House and Senate intelligence committees in private and to the House Oversight and Reform Committee in public before he reports to prison on March 6.
He has delayed his scheduled appearances three times for various reasons.
Cohen was initially scheduled to testify before the House Oversight panel on February 7, but that was canceled and a new date has not been announced.
He was supposed to testify behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee on February 8 but that was rescheduled for February 28.
He was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 12 but that was postponed for 'post-surgery medical needs' - Cohen had shoulder surgery last month - and has not to be rescheduled.
But even when he appears on Capitol Hill he won't be able to discuss the Mueller probe of whether Trump or his campaign team colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.
'If he ever has a chance to testify publicly he won't be able to address any of the issues that Mr. Mueller is investigating and a lot of people will be disappointed by that,' Davis acknowledged.
But he said Cohen will be able to talk about 'what did you do for Mr. Trump for all those years and why.'
Trump's legal team has already made their case against Cohen by painting him as an unreliable witness.
Both Trump's lawyer and the president himself have pushed back against any comments Cohen may have made to Mueller or will make in public by labeling him as a rat and turncoat who can't be believed.
Davis conceded that Cohen knows he has a 'deep hole to climb out' of in terms of credibility.
But he argued his client has seen the light and wants to make amends for his past work for the president.
'He wouldn't take a pardon if Trump pleaded with him to take it. Why? Because it would be dirty,' Davis told ABC News.
He also slammed the president for calling Cohen a rat on Twitter, saying that is 'reckless and dangerous' because it could put Cohen's life in danger in prison.
Trump 'calls him a rat, which is a label that in prison that can be a dangerous label,' Davis said.
In December, Trump attacked Cohen via Twitter for his testimony to the special counsel.
'Remember, Michael Cohen only became a 'Rat' after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started. They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY'S OFFICE! Why didn't they break into the DNC to get the Server or Crooked's office?' he wrote on Dec. 16, 2018.
In April, federal officers - with a warrant - raided Cohen's home, office, and hotel room, seizing documents and materials that included communications between the president and his former personal attorney.
Davis also said his client was worried about his future, including life after federal prison.
'His distress is great. We set up a go-fund-me site. He hasn't worked in over a year. And he's certainly worried about future employment,' Davis said.
Cohen has been cooperating with the special counsel's probe of Russia's role in the 2016 election and has given Mueller's team 70 hours worth of interviews. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York was the lead federal prosecutor earlier this year when Cohen pled guilty to eight counts, including tax fraud and campaign finance violations - that stemmed from the special counsel's investigation.
Cohen also has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline of conversations he had with Russian officials about building a Trump Tower Moscow as part of the separate investigation by Mueller's team.
He was sentenced to three years in prison and is free on bail until that time.
Cohen's guilty pleas included a charge of lying to Congress about a Trump Organization real estate project that was slated for Moscow, Russia and discussed through the fall of 2016 while the president was running for office.
He testified in a closed congressional interview that the project he pursued on Trump's behalf was abandoned by the time of the Iowa Caucuses in January 2016; that would be consistent with Trump's 'political messaging.'
Mueller later filed documents revealing Cohen said he discussed the proposal with Trump on multiple occasions and with members of the president's family, later in the year – even after Trump became the Republican nominee for president.
Cohen said he lied out of loyalty to Trump.
'I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1's political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1,' Cohen said at his plea hearing late last year.
'Individual 1' is Mueller's name for Trump in the investigation.
Cohen was also the central figure in a plot to buy the silence of pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen, a transaction that he admitted was a violation of campaign finance laws since it amounted to an illegally large contribution benefiting Trump's White House hopes.
He said in court that Trump directed him to make the payment, suggesting the president was guilty of a crime.
In August he pleaded guilty to eight separate charges related to tax dodges, falsifying bank documents and the campaign finance violations involving Daniels and another woman, former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal.
Cohen claims that at Trump's request, he arranged for the publisher of The National Enquirer to pay McDougal – another self-described past Trump paramour – for the exclusive rights to her life story. The magazine never published anything, engaging in a practice known as 'catch and kill' in order to help Trump avoid new scandals in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign.
Trump has denied ever having a sexual relationship with either Daniels or McDougal.
Date Posted: Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 , Total Page Views: 388
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