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Former Trump lawyer back in Congress for third day of testimony

WASHINGTON DC, USA – US President Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen was testifying in Congress again on Thursday, February 28, one day after a dramatic appearance during which he accused his longtime boss of being a racist, conman and cheat.

Unlike the riveting nationally televised public testimony last Wednesday, February 27, Cohen's appearance on Thursday before the House Intelligence Committee is being held behind closed doors.

It is the third straight day before a congressional committee for the 52-year-old New Yorker, who addressed a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, February 26.

During 5 hours of grueling testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday, Cohen painted a damning picture of Trump as an inveterate liar who engaged in possibly illegal conduct while in office.

Cohen, who is to report to prison on May 6 to begin serving a 3-year sentence for fraud, tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and lying to Congress, expressed regret for his years of devoted service to Trump.

"He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat," he said.

Cohen said Trump directed him to lie about hush payments made to a porn actress to silence her claims of a 2006 affair with the real estate tycoon.

He said Trump knew in advance in mid-2016 that WikiLeaks would publish emails stolen from rival Hillary Clinton's campaign by the Russians.

And Cohen asserted that lawyers for Trump and his family reviewed and edited his written testimony to Congress in 2017 in which he lied about a Moscow real estate deal that was negotiated through the 2016 presidential election.

But Cohen's testimony produced no fresh evidence that Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia during the election, the subject of an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director.

Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Cohen had "provided the American public with a first-hand account of serious misconduct by Trump & those around him."

Schiff said Thursday's House Intelligence Committee hearing will "examine in depth many of those topics" including Trump Tower Moscow, Wikileaks and "any (White House) role in Cohen's false statements to Congress."

Speaking in Vietnam after a summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, Trump sought to discredit Cohen, saying his former lawyer and fixer had "lied a lot" although not about "one thing."

"He said, no collusion with the Russian hoax," Trump said. "And I said, I wonder why he didn't lie about that, too, like everything else."

The president did not address any of Cohen's specific, damning allegations about his decade of working with Trump. – Rappler.com