NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A Louisiana congressman was among the Republicans on Capitol Hill who tried to water down scathing testimony by Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and so-called “fixer” for President Donald Trump.
"I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat,” Cohen said during televised testimony before the U.S House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Cohen is scheduled to report to prison soon for previously lying to Congress.
"Last fall I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1. For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump,” said Cohen.
Political pundits called the day’s events extraordinary.
"In this fierce partisan environment in D.C., we now have something truly unprecedented. The president's personal attorney for over a decade under oath testifying before Congress that the president, while in office, has committed criminal acts. This is going to add a lot more fuel to the fire for Democrats who are conducting congressional investigations,” said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.
Cohen said Trump knew WikiLeaks would release hacked emails viewed as damaging to then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other high-profile Democrats.
"A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes. As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails,” said Cohen.
Cohen also provided the committee with financial documents and a $35,000 check he said was an installment payment Trump made to him after taking office. Cohen claims the check was reimbursement for “hush-money” he paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the presidential campaign to buy her silence over an alleged affair with Trump.
"And 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,” said Cohen.
Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of St. Landry Parish pointedly questioned Cohen about the documents he claimed would back up his testimony.
"Where are those boxes, good sir? Where are those boxes? Are they in your garage?” asked Higgins.
“They're in storage,” answered Cohen.
Higgins continued his line of questioning.
“Are these not boxes that should have been turned over to investigative authorities during the many criminal investigations you've been subject too?” said Higgins.
“Sir, these are the boxes that were returned to me post the raid,” said Cohen.
Republicans on the Democratic-controlled committee repeatedly painted Cohen as a habitual liar.
Sherman said while the president has supporters on Capitol Hill, the testimony had an impact.
"With Michael Cohen providing documents and specific allegations the bar gets much higher for the president's allies in Congress and there becomes a risk that moderate Republicans start to break from the president on issues,” said Sherman.
Cohen said he had no direct evidence that Trump, or his campaign colluded with Russia.
"For the president, his personal attorney accusing him of criminal conduct is absolutely bad news. The one bright line is there was no new specific evidence presented today by Michael Cohen that the president criminally colluded with Russia,” stated Sherman.