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Peter Marsh is a digital journalist based on the mobile team at the ABC in Brisbane. He joined the ABC in 2016 after working in news and sport in print media.|
The following are excerpts from Peter Marsh's 28 February 2019 news report headlined "Michael Cohen calls Donald Trump 'racist' and 'a cheat' in testimony for House committee".
Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has told Congress the US President knew in advance about a WikiLeaks release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 campaign.
The claims were part of Cohen's testimony at a public hearing of the House Oversight and Reform committee on Wednesday (local time).
In his opening statement Cohen, who will shortly begin a three-year prison sentence for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women and lying to Congress, said he planned to "offer the American people what I know about President Trump".....
On Trump, Cohen says he is 'ashamed'
"He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat," Cohen said of the President.
Describing his former employer, Cohen said being around Mr Trump was "intoxicating", but after he was brought into Mr Trump's private dealings, his "true character" was revealed.
Mr Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself.
Cohen claimed that Mr Trump ran for president "to make his brand great".
"He had no desire or intention to lead this nation — only to market himself and to build his wealth and power. Mr Trump would often say this campaign was going to be the "greatest infomercial in political history"......
On hush-money payments, Cohen says he was directed by Trump
"He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it, which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets," Cohen said.
He said he was going to jail in part for his decision to help Mr Trump "hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later".
"The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws."
In the past Mr Trump has said he never directed Mr Cohen to break the law and that Mr Cohen had lied to get a lighter sentence.
Cohen said Mr Trump asked him to say the President "wasn't knowledgeable" about the payments.
On WikiLeaks, Cohen says Trump knew about the release of hacked emails
He said Mr Trump was told about the release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time from his associate Roger Stone.
"I was in Mr Trump's office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone," Cohen said.
"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.
Mr Trump responded by stating to the effect of "wouldn't that be great".
WikiLeaks has repeatedly denied any involvement with Mr Stone. Mr Stone also disputed the account.
On race, Cohen says 'in private, he is even worse'
In the statement, Cohen claimed he was once asked by Mr Trump if he could name a country run by a "black person that wasn't a s***hole".
"While we were once driving through a struggling neighbourhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.
"And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid," Cohen said.
On Vietnam, Cohen says Trump lied about bone spurs
Cohen said he was asked to handle the negative press surrounding Mr Trump's deferment from the Vietnam draft.
"Mr Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery.
"He finished the conversation with the following comment, 'You think I'm stupid, I wasn't going to Vietnam'."
Cohen said he finds it "ironic" Mr Trump is in Vietnam for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the time of his testimony....
On Trump's tax returns, Cohen says he's seen them
But he hasn't gone through them.
Mr Trump refused to release his tax filings during his 2016 campaign, saying he was being audited. But Cohen said he presumed that was false.
He said he asked Mr Trump for paperwork about the audit to prepare his response to reporters about the issue, but never received any documentation.
Cohen said Mr Trump didn't want to release his tax returns because he "didn't want an entire group of think tanks, who are tax experts, to run through his returns".
On 2020, Cohen says Trump won't allow a peaceful transition
"Given my experience working for Mr Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power," he said. (End excerpts)