Cohen gives who’s who of Trump allies, potential witnesses
NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen gave Congress a who’s who of President Donald Trump’s allies and business associates during his testimony on Wednesday. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer rattled off more than a dozen names, giving the House Oversight and Reform Committee a potential roadmap for future hearings. Here’s a look at Cohen and the key people he mentioned.
For more than a decade, Cohen was a loyal Trump aide . He spoke to the press on Trump’s behalf, wrangled business deals, threatened detractors and occasionally helped suppress unfavorable news stories for him.
Cohen broke with Trump last year and pleaded guilty to charges including that he lied to Congress about a Trump real estate project in Russia and made prohibited campaign contributions in the form of payments to two women who say they had affairs with Trump.
Cohen spoke to the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday and is scheduled for another closed-door session on March 6. He’s due to start a three-year prison sentence in May.
The chief executive of the National Enquirer’s parent company and a longtime Trump ally , helped kill potentially embarrassing stories about Trump over the years by paying hush money in a practice known as “catch-and-kill.” In 2015, Pecker agreed to assist Trump’s run for president by squelching damaging stories, federal prosecutors say.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan agreed not to prosecute Pecker’s company, American Media Inc., for its secret assistance to the campaign. That promise is now under review after the company was accused of threatening to publish revealing photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unless he stopped investigating how the company obtained them.
Cohen said Howard, the executive editor of the Enquirer, was personally involved in coordinating “catch-and-kill” payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. Howard has come under fresh scrutiny for an email he sent threatening to publish the Bezos photos.
The ex-Playboy model said she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007 . American Media Inc. paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story in August 2016 — three months before the election. Cohen made a secret recording of Trump talking about how he wanted to buy the story from the media company to make sure it remained secret.
The porn actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she had a one-night-stand with Trump in 2006 . Days before the 2016 election, Cohen said Trump instructed him to pay Daniels $130,000 to keep her from talking about it.
The Los Angeles attorney who initially represented Daniels and McDougal in their dealings with Cohen and American Media Inc. and negotiated their payments.
The chief financial officer of Trump’s business empire, Weisselberg began working for the company as an accountant for Trump’s late father, Fred. Cohen said Weisselberg helped him “figure out how to” pay off Daniels after Trump allegedly instructed him to do so.
Cohen testified that Weisselberg told him he’d be reimbursed for the payment in 12 monthly installments totaling $420,000, which included a bonus and covered some of Cohen’s taxes and other work he’d done for Trump.
Weisselberg received limited immunity last year related to his grand jury testimony he gave in the Cohen case about the hush money allegations.
Cohen mentioned the longtime Trump security chief turned Trump Organization’s chief operating officer while alleging Trump inflated the value of his assets on financial reports provided to an insurance company. Cohen named Calamari, Weisselberg and the company’s executive vice president, Ron Lieberman, when asked who might know more about that alleged practice.
Sater, a Russian-born former Mafia informant and stock fraud scheme convict, was a business adviser to Trump off-and-on for several years. Cohen said Sater once had an office on the same floor as Trump in Trump Tower.
Sater was involved in trying to jump start a Trump Tower project in Moscow . Cohen pleaded guilty to telling Congress that the Moscow venture was dead by January 2016 when, in reality, work on it persisted deep into the presidential campaign.
Cohen said Sater also talked with him about having Trump visit Russia during the campaign. Sater was also involved in trying to get the White House to look at a Ukrainian peace proposal that favored Russia. The House Intelligence Committee plans to have Sater testify at a public hearing March 14 to talk about Trump’s effort to build a Moscow skyscraper.
One of Trump’s lawyers . Cohen said Sekulow reviewed his false congressional testimony and made changes pertaining to what he was going to say, “about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations.” The testimony was also reviewed by Abbe Lowell, a lawyer representing Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, Cohen said. Sekulow said the allegations that he “edited or changed” Cohen’s testimony to alter the duration of the Moscow negotiations “is completely false.”