Michael Cohen vs. Donald Trump: Comparing two distinctly different versions of events

In an explosive statement, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer made criminal accusations against his ex-client.

Michael Cohen spoke to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in a public hearing Wednesday, saying Trump knew about bribes, meetings, and the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s emails in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.

While Republicans characterized Cohen as a liar, Democrats argued he had nothing left to lose. Cohen, however, said he is sorry for lying to Congress, and sorry for actively hiding the “truth” about Trump from the American people.

Here are the major allegations made by Cohen, and what Trump has previously said about them:

On the Trump Tower meeting:

New York police officers and others stand outside the Trump Tower lobby in New York, Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016. Police hastily cleared the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday to investigate an unattended backpack, only to find that the bag contained children’s toys.

A crucial point in the investigation into Russian collusion is the meeting between Trump campaign staffers, including Donald Trump Jr., and Russian nationals on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower in New York.


In July, 2017 — after the story about the meeting became public — Trump told Reuters that he had only known about the meeting for a few days.

On Aug. 5, 2018, Donald Trump tweeted “I did not know about it!” referring to the meeting between Russians and Trump staffers, including Donald Trump Jr.

He also said it was “a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere.”

It was just the latest in a stream of ever-changing statements about the meeting. First, staff said the meeting was about the adoption of Russian children, before admitting it was about gathering information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent.


Cohen told the committee of an interaction he saw with Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

“I remember being in the room with Mr. Trump, probably in early June 2016, when something peculiar happened. Don Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father’s desk — which in itself was unusual. People didn’t just walk behind Mr. Trump’s desk to talk to him. 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.’”

He said he inferred that the meeting was about the Trump Tower meet up with the Russians because Cohen said “nothing went on in Trump world … without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval.”

On the Stormy Daniels payment:

In this April 16, 2018, file photo, adult film actress Stormy Daniels speaks outside federal court in New York.

Porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

She initially denied it, but as the 2016 election neared, she wanted to go public. But Cohen then negotiated a deal with Daniels for her to stay silent by paying her $130,000. Cohen and Daniels both signed the “non-disclosure agreement” or NDA, but Trump did not.

The news of the payment was first reported by The Wall Street Journal in January 2018.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for using campaign money to pay off Daniels, as well as another woman, Karen McDougall.


At first, Cohen said he made the payments to the women, but that Trump didn’t know about the payments. Trump reiterated that version of the story, saying he knew nothing of the payments.

In May, Trump contradicted himself by acknowledging the payment, and said on Twitter that it was made to stop her from making “false and extortionist accusations.”

He also said the money he repaid Cohen came from a retainer fee he paid to Cohen.

(The change in tune came after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on television that Trump repaid Cohen for the payments.)


Cohen says Trump specifically directed him to pay off Daniels.

“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,” he said in his statements.

Cohen also presented the committee with a copy of the wire transfer he paid to Daniels’ lawyer.

“Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign,” he continued.

“One month into his presidency … he says to me something to the effect of, … ‘Don’t worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming.’ They were Fed-exed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.”

Asked about whether there was a “retainer agreement” as suggested by Trump and Guiliani, Cohen denied having any agreement. He also said Trump directed him to tell the media that Trump had no knowledge of the payments.

On Roger Stone and Wikileaks:

Roger Stone departs Federal Court, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Washington. Stone, a longtime adviser and confidant of President Donald Trump, has pleaded not guilty to charges in the Russia investigation.

Roger Stone was indicted in the Mueller investigation. He is accused of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the campaign and of tampering with a witness who could have debunked his story.

Mueller’s indictment alleges Stone had multiple conversations over email about emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee’s server before the hack was made public.


In an interview with The New York Times on Feb. 1, 2019, Trump was asked if he ever talked to Roger Stone about the emails.

“No,” Trump replied.


On this issue, Cohen was blunt.

“Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails,” Cohen said in his statement.

“In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone.

“Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with 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.’”

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