Read: Michael Cohen's opening statement to Congress

FEBRUARY 27, 2019
Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today.
    I have asked this Committee to ensure that my family be protected from Presidential threats, and that the Committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. Thank you for your help and for your understanding.
    I am here under oath to correct the record, to answer the Committee's questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump.
    I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.
    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.
    I will explain each in a few moments.
    I am providing the Committee today with several documents. These include:
    • A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account -- after he became president - to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign;
    • Copies of financial statements for 2011 -- 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank;
    • A copy of an article with Mr. Trump's handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself -- he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs; and
    • 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.
    I hope my appearance here today, my guilty plea, and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better.
    ***
    Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole.
    The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump.
    Today, I'm here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.
    I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false -- our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.
    Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That's not how he operates.
    In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell
    me there's no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.
    There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me "How's it going in Russia?" -- referring to the Moscow Tower project.
    You need to know that Mr. Trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.
    To be clear: 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.
    And so I lied about it, too -- because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie. And he made it
    clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.
    ****
    Over the past two years, I have been smeared as "a rat" by the President of the United States. The truth is much different, and let me take a brief moment to introduce myself.
    My name is Michael Dean Cohen.
    I am a blessed husband of 24 years and a father to an incredible daughter and son. When I married my wife, I promised her that I would love her, cherish her, and protect her. As my father said countless times throughout my childhood, "you my wife, and you my children, are the air that I breathe." To my Laura, my Sami, and my Jake, there is nothing I wouldn't do to protect you.
    I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity, and compassion -- qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood. My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm's way to do what they knew was right.
    That is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. Mom and Dad...I am sorry that I let you down.
    As many people that know me best would say, I am the person they would call at 3AM if they needed help. I proudly remember being the emergency contact for many of my children's friends when they were growing up because their parents knew that I would drop everything and care for them as if they were my own.
    Yet, last fall I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1.
    For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump.
    It is painful to admit that I was motivated by ambition at times. It is even more painful to admit that many times I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have. Sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.
    For that reason, I have come here to apologize to my family, to the government, and to the American people.
    ***
    Accordingly, let me now tell you about Mr. Trump.
    I got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than 10 years, as his Executive Vice President and Special Counsel and then personal attorney when he became President. When I first met Mr. Trump, he was a successful entrepreneur, a real estate giant, and an icon. Being around Mr. Trump was intoxicating. When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself -- that you were somehow changing the world.
    I wound up touting the Trump narrative for over a decade. That was my job. Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life. At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character 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. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.
    Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country 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."
    He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign -- for him -- was always a marketing opportunity.
    I knew early on in my work for Mr. Trump that he would direct me to lie to further his business interests. I am ashamed to say, that when it was for a real estate mogul in the private sector, I considered it trivial. As the President