President Donald Trump said Sunday that the congressional testimony of Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer and fixer, was in part responsible for the collapse in negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program last week – continuing to vent about the investigations encircling him and his associates.
During seven hours of testimony Wednesday, Cohen said that Trump manipulated financial records and that Trump knew in advance about WikiLeaks’ efforts to release damaging information about his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 campaign, among other allegations.
The testimony unfolded as Trump had traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, to try to forge a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over curbing the North Korean nuclear program.
While in Vietnam, the president said he walked away from the summit with Kim because of a disagreement about economic sanctions on North Korea. But he gave another explanation for the failure of the talks on Twitter on Sunday evening.
“For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the ‘walk,’ ” he tweeted. “Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!”
Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, declined to comment on Trump’s tweet Sunday night.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., had gone through multiple dates for its highly anticipated hearing with Cohen, who has been called to appear before several congressional panels and is scheduled to go to prison in May.
Cohen had been slated to appear publicly before the Oversight Committee on Feb. 7 but canceled, citing potential threats against his family. On Feb. 20, the committee said that it had rescheduled Cohen’s testimony for Wednesday. The president had announced the dates for his second summit with Kim during his State of the Union address on Feb. 5.
Some of Trump’s closest allies similarly criticized Democrats for holding a hearing with Cohen while the president was overseas. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the scheduling a “new low” and accused Democrats’ “hatred of Trump” of undercutting the nuclear talks.
A spokeswoman for the Oversight Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday night.
Trump has repeatedly complained about the Cohen testimony and the escalating investigations of him since he returned from Hanoi without an agreement with Kim. He derided “bull—-” investigations and mocked the “collusion delusion” in a long-winded speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington on Saturday afternoon.
Earlier Sunday evening, he tweeted – as he has done many times before – about “Presidential Harassment” from “crazed” Democrats, calling it at the “highest level in the history of our Country.”
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Seung Min Kim