Popcorn for breakfast
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Michael Cohen is scheduled to take the witness stand before the House Oversight Committee. The panel's chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, isn't exactly underselling expectations for the gripping drama that may then unfold.
"It may very well be a turning point in our country's history," the Maryland Democrat told CNN.
Donald Trump's former fixer, who proclaimed he chose to come clean after getting caught in federal crimes, will lay out a case against the president of possible criminal conduct. Among Cohen's accusations, according to several news reports: Trump lied about his personal finances, evaded property taxes, cheated in business and used racist language in private.
Junior the loser?
The famous Trump Tower — Russia huddle could come into play.
Cohen is set to testify he was meeting there with Trump when his namesake son went behind the desk and the two spoke in hushed tones.
“I recalled Don Jr. leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice, which I could clearly hear, and saying: ‘The meeting is all set.’ I remember Mr. Trump saying, ‘Ok good … let me know."
"What struck me as I looked back and thought about that exchange between Don Jr. and his father was, first, that Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world," Cohen's prepared testimony reads. "And also, that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone — and certainly not without checking with his father."
The Moscow circus
Also from Cohen's prepared testimony: "Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project."
Past Pop's bedtime
Headed to prison soon for offenses including lying to Congress in 2017, Cohen has assembled documents aimed at shoring up his own wobbly credibility. Those will include a check signed by Trump as part of Cohen's reimbursement for paying $130,000 in hush money to keep porn star Stormy Daniels from telling her story about an affair with Trump before the 2016 election, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Cohen also will reveal private Trump financial statements and allege the books were cooked on Trump's net worth for various purposes, according to the Journal. The committee is expected to question Cohen on how Trump's pursuit of a Trump Tower deal in Moscow lasted deep into his presidential campaign.
Attacking Cohen's testimony in advance, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”
But it's going to be must-see TV, even for Trump. The president is expected to stay up all night to watch from Vietnam in between nuclear arms negotiations with Kim Jong Un. For more, see Newsday's story by Tom Brune.
No Danang for Don
According to Cohen, Trump asked him to manage press coverage of his Vietnam-era draft deferments and once told him, “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.” This lands just as Trump resumes flogging Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) as "Danang Dick."
Also on the hypocrisy-projection front: Trump sought out predecessor Barack Obama's private school records from Columbia University. But Cohen is now providing the Congressional committees with "copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores."
Talking it up
Cohen said he look forward "to being able to have my voice to tell the American people my story, and I'm going to let the American people decide exactly who is telling the truth."
He appeared Tuesday at a closed hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee and apologized for the lies he told two years ago about the Trump Tower Moscow project, CNN reported.
Janison: D'oh! boy
In his days as a Trump fixer and TV surrogate, Cohen had the look of a man who was in over his head, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
The tough-guy act is over now that Cohen has turned into a sad, if reluctant, snitch. The public on Wednesday can expect to hear the resigned effect that goes with a 3-year prison sentence for financial crimes and lying to Congress.
Also formally over, unsurprisingly, is Cohen's never-stellar legal career. He was disbarred on Tuesday by a panel of judges at the recommendation of a New York State bar grievance committee, reports Newsday's John Riley.
Aspiring Trump mini-me Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) may be taking inspiration from Cohen's old playbook — namely that time Cohen threatened a reporter working on a story unfavorable to Trump by saying "what I’m going to do to you is going to be [expletive] disgusting."
On the eve of Cohen's open House testimony, Gaetz tweeted: "Hey @MichaelCohen212 — Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot …"
Gaetz denied that was witness intimidation. "I'm witness testing," he told Vox. A former Florida Republican congressman, David Jolly, called the comment "a new low in an age of low, and possibly a crime by a sitting Congressman."
It was also peak chutzpah: insinuation of extramarital affairs, without evidence, by the lawyer convicted of helping the president cover up credible allegations of infidelities. Even Michael Avenatti, the Stormy Daniels lawyer who has delighted for more than a year in tormenting Cohen, was appalled. "Textbook obstruction of justice. And truly unbelievable," Avenatti tweeted.
Some enchanted evening
Trump and North Korea's Kim begin their second nuclear summit Wednesday with a one-on-one discussion and an intimate dinner at the at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, a luxury French Colonial sanctum in Hanoi.
The Associated Press reports that although many experts are skeptical that Kim will give up the nuclear weapons he likely sees as his best guarantee of continued rule, there was a palpable, carnival-like excitement in Vietnam's capital as final preparations were made for the meetings.
"Tremendous crowds, and so much love!" Trump tweeted.
Ivanka Trump, working class hero
If Ivanka Trump ever goes back to the fashion business, look for a line of designer bootstraps.
Criticizing the Green New Deal pushed by progressive Democrats, the president's daughter and White House senior adviser told Fox News she didn't think most Americans "want to be given something … People want to work for what they get."
What else is happening:
- The House voted 245-182 Wednesday evening to block Trump's declaration of a national emergency to pay for a border wall. Thirteen House Republicans joined Democrats in passing the measure.
- Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen told an interviewer for Marketplace that Trump doesn't have a grasp of the Fed's role in economic policy.
- A federal appeals court unanimously upheld Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel. Its validity was challenged by Andrew Miller — a Roger Stone aide — who has refused to comply with a subpoena to testify.
- Three top media consultants from Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign have quit his just-launched 2020 bid, citing disagreements over strategy. "We just didn't have a meeting of the minds," Mark Longabaugh told NBC News.
- Hillary Clinton said female candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination unjustly face the challenge of not looking "aggressive" or "angry." Interviewed on the podcast “TBD with Tina Brown,” Clinton asked: "How do you get on this kind of Goldilocks path where you're not too strong and you're not too weak, you're not too aggressive and you're not too passive?”