Analysis: Cohen testimony gives lawmakers a "roadmap" to investigate Trump

March 3, 2019

During explosive testimony, Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee, President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen called Mr. Trump "racist" and a "con man." Cohen also accused the president of committing several crimes.

Cohen implied the president may have lied to the special counsel, saying Mr. Trump knew emails had been stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign before they were released by WikiLeaks. But CBS News' Paula Reid explained that the biggest legal threat to the president may be ongoing investigations by federal prosecutors in New York.

"Cohen testified he couldn't even reveal the details of his last conversation with the president because it's the subject of an ongoing investigation," Reid said.

Cohen was asked about any illegal act by Mr. Trump and noted that those are being investigated by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. But when asked about the last time he and Mr. Trump spoke, he would not elaborate.

"Unfortunately, this topic is actually something that's being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York and I've been asked by them not to talk about these issues," Cohen said.

Republicans questioned why Cohen should be trusted since he is already heading to federal prison for lying to Congress. But Reid said Cohen gave lawmakers a "roadmap" of where to go next.

"He gave them the names of specific people who would have knowledge of some of this alleged criminal conduct, he also brought with him documents and suggested where to get more. Most importantly, he has alleged the president underestimated his net worth so as not to pay his fair share of taxes, giving Democrats a way to pursue the president's elusive tax returns," Reid said. 

Cohen said Mr. Trump told him that he did not want think tanks and tax experts to scrutinize his finances. According to Cohen, the president believed it would ultimately lead to tax penalties.

Mr. Trump has long refused to release his tax returns, citing a claim that he's under audit. Pressed by Gomez, Cohen said he never obtained confirmation that Mr. Trump was under audit, despite asking for it.

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