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Even Though He's Lied, Rep. Speier Says Cohen Is Worth Bringing Back


Michael Cohen has been sentenced to prison for, among other crimes, lying to Congress. That hasn't stopped Congress from bringing him back to testify again. Today will be the second of three days that Cohen will take questions from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and today is the only one when the cameras will be rolling. According to prepared testimony obtained by NPR, Michael Cohen will tell the House Oversight Committee that the president of the United States is a, quote, "racist," a "con man" and a "cheat." This morning, President Trump said on Twitter that Cohen is lying to reduce his prison time.

California Democrat Jackie Speier gets a chance to question Cohen later this morning. Congresswoman, thanks so much for being with us.

JACKIE SPEIER: Great to be with you, Rachel.

MARTIN: Michael Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress before, as I noted. Why's he worth bringing back?

SPEIER: Because he is a font of knowledge, I think, for all of us who have been looking into this issue for years now. He was the president's fixer. And remember, he lied to Congress on behalf of the president of the United States, and he lied about the fact that they continued to work on Trump Tower Moscow into the 2016 election, when Donald Trump was saying that he had no dealings with Russia, and yet he had a letter of intent with persons in Russia to build the Trump Tower Russia.

MARTIN: So you believe that Cohen is now trustworthy?

SPEIER: I think if he has information that can be corroborated by documents, that everything he says is going to be very compelling.

MARTIN: What's your first question to him?

SPEIER: Well, I went to bed with the idea of asking him one set of questions, and I woke up this morning with the release of the information about the contacts...

MARTIN: The testimony. Yeah.

SPEIER: That that was the case. So I'm going to ask him about the tapes he has of Donald Trump. I'm going to ask him about tax evasion. I'm going to ask him about the real estate holdings that Donald Trump had and which he was engaged in, which appear to have laundered money associated with them. Those were the lines of questions I was going to ask last night. But now that we know about WikiLeaks, and we now know about the Trump Tower meeting, I think there'll be other questions as well.

MARTIN: We should drill down a bit on the WikiLeaks revelation. So in this prepared testimony, Michael Cohen will say that President Trump, then candidate Trump, knew about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks' plans to release DNC emails, that he was aware of the conversations that Roger Stone was allegedly having with WikiLeaks. What more information do you want about that?

SPEIER: I want to know to what extent that relationship extended beyond just sharing of the dumps that were being done. And I think that what we're going to find out is that the president was very involved in the meeting at Trump Tower because, right after that, he suggested he was going to have a major revelation that he was going to make subsequent to the New Jersey primary. And of course, after the meeting, it appeared that there wasn't nearly as much juicy evidence against Hillary Clinton, so he never gave the speech.

He has been involved in this from day one. He is a hands-on individual who ran his Trump organization like he ran his campaign, like he is running the United States, where he thinks everyone is working for him, and they will do whatever he tells them to do, whether it's legal or not.

MARTIN: Let me ask you, though, these are all issues that special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are investigating, have been for years now. Do you not trust that that is sufficient?

SPEIER: Well, actually, some of these issues I don't think the special counsel is handling because there wasn't...

MARTIN: Or the Southern District in New York.

SPEIER: So we still have property issues. Where did he get the money for the golf course in Scotland, where he came up with cash? He was never a cash man. So who are the investors that he has held in silence that may or may not be individuals that we would be concerned that he's doing business with?

MARTIN: What do you believe could be the consequences of Cohen's testimony today?

SPEIER: If it is as explosive as it appears to be, I think that it is the beginning of an impeachment process.

MARTIN: California Democrat Jackie Speier. She's on the House Government Oversight Committee. She'll be questioning Michael Cohen later this morning. We appreciate your time this morning, Congresswoman.

SPEIER: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.