'Conman' Trump Once Arranged for 'Fake Bidder' on Painting of Himself to Make Sure It Sold for a Large Sum: Michael Cohen

Wednesday's testimony, which will began at 10 a.m. ET, is expecting to last between four and five hours

Michael Cohen — once Donald Trump‘s lawyer, fixer and fiercest defender — will testify publicly before Congress on Wednesday that Trump is a “racist,” “con man” and “cheat” who engaged in criminal conduct during both the 2016 presidential campaign and his presidency.

Outlets including The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and NBC News obtained a draft copy of the scathing 20-page opening statement Cohen plans to read on Wednesday morning before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Among the allegations Cohen, 52, will make is a new claim that Trump was aware his longtime advisor Roger Stone was in communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the release of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 election that would be damaging to opponent Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

If true, this is the first time anyone has said Trump had direct knowledge of the WikiLeakes dump, which came on the eve of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. It’s also the first time anyone has directly connected Stone and Assange. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice over his ties to Russia, and has indicted Stone on charges of obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering. Stone has denied all claims and is currently fighting his charges in court.

In his testimony, Cohen will say he allegedly witnessed a speakerphone call between Trump and Stone discussing the matter.

“I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone,” Cohen will say, according to NBC News. “Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with [WikiLeaks founder] 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.’ ”

Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock; Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Cohen pleaded guilty last year for lying to Congress in 2017 about the Trump Tower Moscow dealings, and the illegal “hush money” he paid during the 2016 presidential election to buy the silence of pornstar Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal — who both claim they had affairs with Trump.

But in his testimony on Wednesday, Cohen will now say that Trump urged him to downplay the Trump Tower Moscow project, which allegedly was well underway throughout the campaign (it has now been terminated).

“To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it,” Cohen’s testimony reads, according to The Times. “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.”

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Trump also allegedly has his own lawyers review and edit Cohen’s 2017 testimony to Congress about the Trump Organization’s business dealings in Moscow. “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,” Cohen plans to say, CNN reports. “And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.”

What Cohen won’t say in his testimony is that Trump conspired with Russia to win the election. “Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not,” NBC News reports Cohen will say, before adding that he has “suspicions.”

As for the hush-money payments, which are felony campaign finance violations, Cohen plans to reveal documents that show Trump’s alleged involvement in the crimes. Cohen will also provide public financial statements that show how Trump deflated his net worth to avoid paying property taxes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Cohen will also talk at length about what he says are serious flaws in Trump’s character — the very shady behaviors, he purports, that lead him to call the president a “cheat” and “conman” and “racist.”

In one portion of his testimony, as reported by the Times, Cohen will recount how Trump had Cohen find a third-party “straw bidder” for a painting of Trump that was going up for auction. This way, according to Cohen, Trump could ensure that the portrait of himself was sold for the largest sum that day — for $60,000.

Trump then directed his charity, the Trump Foundation, to reimburse the third-party bidder, Cohen will reportedly testify. But the president kept the painting

Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Appears Before Closed Senate Intelligence Committee
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Trump has been critical of Cohen in the past, and slammed his credibility on Twitter, Wednesday, before meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a nuclear summit in Vietnam.

“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately),” Trump tweeted, in part. “He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to discredit Cohen in a statement Tuesday, too.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Attorney Lanny Davis, an advisor to Cohen, told The Times that he “worked very hard on this moment to not only tell the truth, but to back it up with documents.”

When asked about his “truthfulness,” Davis told The Times that Cohen will say “I take full responsibility, I lied in the past; now you have to decide if I’m telling the truth.”

Wednesday’s testimony, which will begin at 10 a.m. ET, is expecting to last between four and five hours, NBC News reported.

Just yesterday, Cohen spent Tuesday in a marathon closed-door hearing before the Senate intelligence committee. He will conclude Thursday before a closed House intelligence meeting.

Back in December, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for one count of making a false statement to Congress, eight felony counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

Cohen is expected to report to federal prison May 6.

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