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Michael Cohen said Wednesday he regretted lying to First Lady Melania Trump about Donald Trump's alleged affair with Stormy Daniels

By Diane Herbst
February 27, 2019 12:43 PM
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First Lady Melania Trump and U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) attend the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.

President Donald Trump‘s former personal lawyer and longtime fixer has many regrets — and one of the biggest is lying to First Lady Melania Trump about her husband’s alleged 2006 affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels.

“He [Trump] 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,” Michael Cohen said Wednesday during testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets,” Cohen continued. “She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly — and she did not deserve that.”

Along with his testimony, Cohen produced what he said was a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer he sent from his own home equity line of credit “during the closing days of the presidential campaign” to keep Daniels quiet about her affair allegations. (Trump has been accused of infidelity or sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women and he has vigorously denied all their claims.)

Trump allegedly “directed” Cohen to use his own money so that the funds could not be traced back to the president and “negatively impact his campaign,” Cohen testified.

He called Trump, for whom he worked for a decade, a “conman” and a “cheat” who had for years mesmerized him against his better judgment.

Last year, in a surprise heel-turn, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations connected to the payment to Daniels and said he acted at the behest of Trump. The president has denied there was any affair and said he did not know about the 2016 payment to Daniels.

“I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later,” Cohen said on Wednesday.

His testimony, which began in morning, was continuing by past lunch and expected to go into the afternoon. He was faced with blistering attacks from the Republican members of the committee who said that he could not be trusted given his own admitted history of lying.

“Ladies and gentleman, how on earth is this witness credible?” Rep. Mark Green, of Tennessee, said in his remarks.

“He will say whatever he wants to accomplish his own personal goals,” Green said of Cohen. “He’s a fake witness and his presence here is a travesty.”

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Michael Cohen testifying to Congress on Wednesday
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Cohen testified Wednesday that Trump reimbursed him for the payments, and provided a copy of a $35,000 check that Trump signed “from his personal bank account” on August 1, 2017.

“The president of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws,” Cohen said.

He testified it was one of a series of reimbursement payments Trump made to him.

The Trump Organization has previously denied being involved with the hush agreement as has the White House, which claimed it was a private arrangement between Cohen and Daniels.

The first lady has yet to publicly address the allegations that her husband had an affair with Daniels but told ABC News last year that broader scrutiny of her marriage didn’t faze her.

“It is not a concern and focus of mine,” she said. “I’m a mother and a first lady and I have much more important things to think about and to do. I know people like to speculate and the media like to speculate about our marriage.”

(A spokeswoman for the first lady did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cohen’s testimony.)

Earlier Wednesday, while in Vietnam for denuclearization talks with North Korea, the president wrote in a tweet that Cohen “is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders similarly slammed his comments in a statement Tuesday, according to NBC.

“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” she said. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”