Michael Cohen, the former “fixer” and personal lawyer of US President Donald Trump, is set to give his testimony on Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight.
Cohen, who worked for Trump from 2006 until 2018 in roles including as his personal lawyer, co-president of Trump Entertainment and deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the special counsel’s Russia probe in August.
Those charges include fraud, lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws, which he said he committed at Trump’s direction – an allegation the president denies.
Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison. The start of that prison sentence is set to begin in May.
Wednesday’s testimony began at 10am local time (15:00 GMT). Here are all the latest updates:
Congressional hearing under way
Congressional hearing under way featuring highly anticipated public testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.
LIVE: Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney of US President Donald Trump, testifies before members of the House Oversight Committee. https://t.co/hTBj98pNFv
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) February 27, 2019
Excerpts of Cohen’s prepared remarks
“Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for president, launch a campaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said ‘yes’ to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.
“I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.
“I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty – of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.
“I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.
“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.
“He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.
“He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.”
Trump knew of Clinton email leak, Cohen to say in his testimony
Cohen plans to accuse Trump of being “a racist”, “a conman” and “a cheat” who committed “illicit acts” before Congress on Wednesday, according to a draft testimony (PDF) released by US media outlets.
Cohen will state in the testimony that Trump committed a variety of possible crimes, including making hush payments to aid his campaign and tax fraud.
The former lawyer claims that Trump asked if he “could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘s******'”, during former President Barack Obama’s term.
Cohen also claims Trump was told by Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political consultant, that WikiLeaks was in possession of emails that “would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign”.
Trump tweets Cohen ‘lying in order to reduce prison time’
Ahead of Cohen’s testimony, Trump took to Twitter, saying his former lawyer is “lying in order to reduce his prison time” – a statement he has said before.