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9 Revelations from Michael Cohen’s Bombshell Testimony

"He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat."
Photograph by Evy Mages

In dramatic prepared remarks released today, Michael Cohen accused the President of a raft of misconduct—and said he has documents to prove it. Cohen’s allegations including extraordinary new details about Trump’s personal finances; possible violations of campaign finance law in the alleged payoffs of erstwhile mistresses; what, if anything, Trump knew about possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign; and much, much more.

Here are the nine details that, if true, would be the most extraordinary revelations from Cohen’s testimony.

1. Donald Trump knew Roger Stone was coordinating dumps of Democrats’ e-mails

Cohen describes attending a meeting with Donald Trump in his office when Roger Stone called. Trump put Stone on speakerphone. Stone said he had just spoken with Julian Assange, and to expect “a massive dump” of e-mails that could damage Hillary Clinton‘s campaign in the coming days. Trump responded, “Wouldn’t that be great.”

2. Trump promised Cohen an illegal payoff in the Oval Office

Cohen describes 11 financial disbursements made to him as reimbursement for his personal payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal—a violation of campaign finance law. In February 2017, Cohen, who had not yet been reimbursed, went to visit Trump for the first time in the Oval Office. During a tour, Trump turned to Cohen: “Don’t worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming,” Trump is described as saying. Shortly after, Cohen received a check for $70,000. One of the checks came from Trump’s personal bank account while he was still President.

3. Trump threatened his high school if they ever released his grades

Cohen describes writing letters—at Trump’s insistence—to Trump’s high school, colleges and the College Board, threatening each with legal action if they ever released Trump’s grades and SAT scores.

4. Trump paid a straw bidder to pump up the value of his portrait

In one of the strangest details from the account, Cohen claims that Trump arranged for a friend to purchase an oil portrait of Trump at a charity event in the Hamptons—which Trump later bought back with funds from his charitable foundation. The charade was to ensure that Trump’s portrait would “go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon.” It also appears to contradict an account of the portrait’s purchase offered by Trump’s own lawyers.

5. New details of Trump’s failed Moscow Tower deal

Trump didn’t directly ask Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Tower deal, Cohen says. Instead, Trump made his intent clear in other ways: Having his lawyers sign off on Cohen’s testimony beforehand, and Trump prodding Cohen a half-dozen times during the campaign to check the status of the negotiations. Cohen also says he was “actively negotiating in Russia” during the campaign—an apparent contradiction of earlier reports, which suggested that Cohen turned down an opportunity to travel to Russia in June 2016 to pursue the deal.

6. Trump bragged about dodging Vietnam

When Trump directed his aides to tell reporters he received a medical deferment in Vietnam for bone spurs, Cohen asked to see medical records. Trump provided none, instead saying, “You think I’m stupid[?] I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”

7. Trump appeared to know about the infamous Russian cutout meeting at Trump Tower

In an anecdote sure to elicit extensive questioning from members of Congress, Cohen offered a clue about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June, 2016—in which a lawyer with ties to Russia offered damaging material on Clinton. According to Cohen, during a meeting in June in Trump’s office, Donald Trump, Jr., entered the room and approached his father behind his desk. “The meeting is all set,” he whispered to his father. Trump replied: “OK good…let me know.”

Cohen also says Trump repeatedly told him that “Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world.”

8. Trump said minorities were stupid and poor

Trump once insinuated to Cohen that all countries run by black people were “shitholes”—while Barack Obama was president. In a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, Trump said that “only black people could live that way.” On another occasion, he told Cohen that “black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”

9. Trump boasted of deceiving the government on his taxes

After telling him he was cutting Cohen’s salary in half, Trump showed Cohen a $10 million IRS tax refund. “He could not believe how stupid the government was for giving ‘someone like him’ that much money back,” Cohen recounts.

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Benjamin Wofford
Staff Writer

Benjamin Wofford is a staff writer at Washingtonian. He has been a contributing editor at Politico Magazine, and a regular contributor to the magazines Glamour, Vox and Rolling Stone. His work has been included in Longform, The Sunday Longread and The Atlantic’s annual “Exceptional Journalism” review.