A congressional hearing is underway featuring the much-anticipated public testimony from Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.
Mr Cohen is expected to detail before the House Oversight and Reform Committee what he believes is Mr Trump’s lying, racism and cheating, and possibly even criminal conduct.
Democratic Rep Elijah Cummings, Chairman, Oversight Committee, said Mr Cohen’s claims were “deeply disturbing and troubling to all Americans”.
Mr Cohen, who was Mr Trump’s longtime fixer, is the first high-profile witness called before the committee as newly empowered Democrats pursue an aggressive effort to investigate the president.
Mr Cohen played a pivotal role in buying the silence of a porn actress and a former Playboy Playmate who both alleged they had sex with Mr Trump. The president has denied their claims.
Mr Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations connected to the payments and to lying to Congress.
He’s set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.
Mr Cohen is planning to tell a House committee that Mr Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and that Trump is a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat.”
Mr Cohen suggests in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press that Trump also implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate project. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project, which he says Trump knew about as Cohen was negotiating with Russia during the 2016 election campaign.