At the start of his opening statement at a hearing Wednesday, Cohen asked the House Oversight and Reform Committee “to ensure that my family be protected from presidential threats.” That’s because he knows all too well what these threats look like, since he made many of them himself as the lawyer for President Trump and for the Trump Organization.
Cohen notoriously threatened reporter Tim Mak in 2015 (“what I’m going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting”) over a story involving allegations against Trump by his former wife Ivana. According to Cohen’s testimony Wednesday, he did this regularly.
“How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten another individual or entity on his behalf?” asked Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier from California.
Cohen hesitated before he said, “Quite a few times.”
“Fifty times?” pressed Speier
“More” responded Cohen.
“A hundred times?” asked Speier.
“More,” repeated Cohen.
“Two hundred times?” asked Speier.
“More,” said Cohen.
When Speier asked if Trump had him threaten someone 500 times, Cohen agreed, “Probably.” He clarified that over the 10 years he’s worked for the Trump Organization, he witnessed Trump threaten people “with litigation” or have “an argument with a nasty reporter that is writing an article.”
Stormy Daniels, the porn star who has recounted a sexual encounter with Trump, released a statement about how Cohen issued threats in an effort make her retract her account, which has been denied by the president.
“I understand your fear, Michael,” she wrote. “I have a family too. Do you believe now that when you and the president called me a liar, when you were an attorney and you insulted me, threatened to bankrupt me and worse, that you put me and my family in danger?”
Cohen also testified that Trump, whom he repeatedly referred to as a “con man,” directed him to “threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores."
Before the hearing, Cohen faced threats from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who directed a tweet at him about his family. “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...” wrote Gaetz, who has since apologized.
“By coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the president and his lawyer – trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel,” said Cohen in his opening testimony. “Mr. Trump called me a ‘rat’ for choosing to tell the truth – much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.”
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