Massie: Cohen is the least credible witness we’ve had in the oversight committee since I’ve been in office

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 27, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Man, oh, man, you are looking at two sides of the same very weird day.

To the left of your screen there, you're looking at the House Oversight Committee. They're about to resume the Michael Cohen hearings, the president's so-called fixer, who has now presented the president a bit of a fix.

And on the right of your screen, his old boss, the president of the United States, meeting with the North Korean leader. It is 4:00 a.m., Vietnam time, in Hanoi. The president will get ready for what will be a busy day of continued negotiations with his North Korean counterpart, on the same day his presidency and his actions are being called into question a very fiery, politicized debate back and forth about what he knew and when he knew it, and to whom he was writing out checks, and why he was writing them out.

A fiery back and forth that has a lot of Republicans saying, you couldn't put off this hearing until after the president got back on these talks, and, well, Democrat saying, there's no time like the present.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto, and this is "Your World."

As we wait for that hearing the resume, let's first get the raid on what is going on with these talks now in Vietnam.

Retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin.

General, good to have you.

The timing of all this is a little weird. I'm wondering if it hurts, in your view, the president and his ongoing negotiations if, back home, the world knows that this is about his former personal lawyer spilling the beans on a lot of stuff that might or might not be true.

LT. GEN. JERRY BOYKIN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Yes, it's amazing, Neil, that there are actually people in this country that would rather see the president fail in these talks in North Korea than to delay their hearings, to delay anything that would hurt his reputation.

CAVUTO: You know, what is weird, General? Regardless of where you stand politically on this, this could have been arranged on any other day.

BOYKIN: Yes.

CAVUTO: And it's this day that these meetings in Vietnam were well- telegraphed, what, about two weeks ago, down to the second, down to the minute.

So they knew that. And then they went through this anyway. I'm not minimizing the importance of hearing from Michael Cohen. I am wondering about the timing.

BOYKIN: Yes.

Well, look, I think it's just exactly what it appears to be. Again, it's an effort to humiliate the president at a time when he needs to be totally focused on developing a relationship with Kim and coming to some agreement on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

I think that this is scandalous, quite frankly, and I think it's exactly what it looks like to everybody.

CAVUTO: All right. So, General, let's step back and talk about things which are very familiar, and that is these talks and what we want to see out of them.

We obviously have very different opinions on what is denuclearization. To me, it seems rather simple. Just stop the nuke stuff, period. But it isn't that simple. I understand that.

But is there a timeline that you think we should be pushing with Kim Jong- un, or what?

BOYKIN: Well, me personally, I think we should be very careful with the timeline.

What I think is also looming on the horizon that we haven't paid a lot of attention to is, what is South Korea going to do? What is President Moon going to do?

And I'm concerned that the longer this drags out, the more opportunity he has to maybe cut a bad deal with North Korea. Now, I think this denuclearization definition is the first order of business. In my mind, that's what we have got to do. And then I think the second thing we have got to do is, we have got to -- we have got to set a time certain when there will be future high-level negotiations.

That includes obviously Mike Pompeo, as well as maybe John Bolton, to determine the specifics of how the North is going to denuclearize. Reaching the point where we have a common decision on the definition between the two of us is a major hurdle. I hope we get there. But I'm not sure that we will during these -- these talks.

CAVUTO: All right, we will have to watch it closely. General, thank you for taking the time. We do appreciate it.

BOYKIN: Glad to be with you.

CAVUTO: In the meantime, back to that other story the general was alluding to, and that is these hearings that are about to resume any minute now in Washington, D.C., the House Oversight Committee questioning, and rather aggressively so, Michael Cohen, the president's former top lawyer, personal lawyer.

We have got chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge with the latest.

Hey, Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank you, Neil.

Let's start with this issue of Russian collusion, because it's the idea that started these investigations nearly three years ago. And Michael Cohen testified today that he had suspicions about collusion, coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, but he had no direct evidence.

And the closest he came to direct evidence was testifying about a phone call in the summer of 2016 involving then candidate Trump, political operative Roger Stone, and Mr. Cohen, and it was about WikiLeaks.

Just for some context, before we get to the sound, at that time, the U.S. intelligence community had not drawn a straight line between the hacked e- mails and Russian hackers.

Here's that testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone.

Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of e-mails that would damage Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect, "Wouldn't that be great?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HERRIDGE: The other two issues that were discussed today have to do with the Southern District of New York.

And I think these pieces of testimony may be the most efficient, because they speak to the possibility of ongoing legal exposure for President Trump. One of them has to do with a hush money payments made by the president, Cohen testified, in 2017. These were part of what he said were installments, money to Stormy Daniels over an affair she alleged that the president denied.

What we saw today consistently from lawmakers was a clear political divide between those who felt there was new information here and others who felt that Cohen had a credibility problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN, R-OH: You can't trust a word he's saying. I mean, this guy so delusional, he actually said he started the Trump presidential campaign in 2011, when he created some Web site.

And he's also arguing with the Southern District of New York attorneys. He said he never even wanted a job in the White House, when the Southern District of New York attorneys said he definitely wanted a job in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he came across as credible today. I think that if there's any anybody who knows the consequences of lying to Congress, in this case in months and years, it's Michael Cohen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HERRIDGE: So the testimony is going to resume in about 10 minutes time, Neil.

And just to say there's more coming, there is in fact tomorrow, because there will be a closed session in front of the House Intelligence Committee, where they're dealing specifically with the issues surrounding Russia.

But I think the bottom line for folks at home is that it looks like the most legal exposure, if it exists, is in the Southern District of New York for Donald Trump on issues that are unrelated to Russia collusion -- Neil.

CAVUTO: OK, Catherine Herridge, thank you very, very much.

By the way, this is something that Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, had been saying in interviews, with his book out here, is a more problematic issue for the president of the United States, what's going on in that investigation of the Southern District of New York.

Judge Andrew Napolitano with us right now.

Judge, back and forth, back and forth, he said, he said kind of deal. What do you think?

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, JUDICIAL ANALYST: First, I agree with General Boykin. Politics stops at the water's edge, and this shouldn't have been had today.

The president shouldn't...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: It didn't have to be today.

NAPOLITANO: This could have been put off for a week.

The Congress actually helped Michael Cohen get his sentencing reporting date, his jail reporting date, delayed by two months. He's got another two months in which they could have had this.

The president doesn't need this monkey on his back while he's negotiating with Kim Jong-un.

However, as to what Michael Cohen said, the government can't -- doesn't always get to pick its witnesses. Often, the people who testify on behalf of the government or as morally bad as the people the government's prosecuting.

All right, so Michael Cohen lied, and he admitted to it, and now says, I'm now telling the truth.

If he's that kind of a monster, Mr. President, why do you keep him around for 10 years?

CAVUTO: Yes.

NAPOLITANO: But he paints a potentially grave picture for the president.

If the conversation he says he overheard with Roger Stone is true, then the president lied under oath, because the president swore to the accuracy of his answers to the written questions from Bob Mueller, one of which was, did you speak to Roger Stone about Julian Assange?

Answer, "No."

If what Michael Cohen says is true that the president knew about the meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower in June of 2016, then he lied under oath, because he told Bob Mueller he didn't know about it.

CAVUTO: But you would have to prove one or the other.

NAPOLITANO: Right. You would have to prove it.

CAVUTO: It could be one word against another.

NAPOLITANO: Correct.

In one case, though, there is there is corroborating evidence. And that is the payments to -- by Donald Trump signed while he was president to Michael Cohen showing a debt from the president to Michael Cohen.

The president swore in his financial statements filed with the Department of the Treasury he didn't have any debts with Michael Cohen. And two months after he swore to the accuracy of that, he starts writing checks of $35,000 a month to Michael Cohen.

That extends the conspiracy to defraud the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, of accurate campaign information into the president's presidency.

So, if Cohen is being truthful, and if the government can corroborate what he said today, there's at least four potential felonies of which he has accused the president of the United States.

CAVUTO: Now...

NAPOLITANO: But those are big ifs.

CAVUTO: All right, now, back to your basic point at the outset here, that we are essentially going on the word of someone who's going off to jail for three years because he lied to Congress.

NAPOLITANO: Right. Right.

CAVUTO: And now his testimony is taken as gospel by at least the Democrats on that committee.

NAPOLITANO: Well, some...

CAVUTO: But, be that as it may, where does this go?

NAPOLITANO: It actually depends upon two prosecutor's offices, both of which our colleagues have been talking about.

CAVUTO: Right.

NAPOLITANO: It depends on what Mueller wants to do.

Does he have enough evidence from Cohen, corroborated, because he can't use Cohen's word alone.

CAVUTO: Right.

NAPOLITANO: He prosecuted Cohen.

And does he have -- does the Southern District of New York, the prosecutors here in New York City, have enough evidence?

The one startling thing that Michael...

CAVUTO: The Southern District thing is potentially a bigger issue.

NAPOLITANO: I agree with you.

The president could fire the attorney general, could shut down Bob Mueller tomorrow. Neither of them can shut down the prosecutors in the Southern District. And they are not political prosecutors. They are career, lifetime, full-time, apolitical prosecutors.

CAVUTO: And that office is not so much interested in collusion, as going back years and years with business transactions.

NAPOLITANO: It -- I can tell you what it's in to. It's in to bank fraud with Deutsche Bank. And it's into campaign finance fraud with the payments of hush money.

And there's apparently evidence for both.

CAVUTO: Judge, thank you for sorting all that out.

NAPOLITANO: You're welcome.

CAVUTO: It's a mess, but I knew you could and would and did. thank you very, very much.

All right, let's get the read on this from one of the questioners today, Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie. He was taking on Michael Cohen today.

Congressman, what do you think of the damage Cohen has done, or has he?

REP. THOMAS MASSIE, R-KY: I think he did damage to the Democrats' case. Self-inflicted wounds.

He's the least credible witness we have had in the Oversight Committee since I have been in Congress. And if this was a foundation for impeachment or some prosecution of the president, this is a very crumbly cornerstone they have laid.

They started out -- if this is their best witness, they have got credibility issues. Speaking of which, Michael Cohen, I asked him specific -- specifically if he remembered the date of that phone call that he claims that Roger Stone had with Trump where they learned about the WikiLeaks.

He said it was the end of July. Well, guess what? On June 12 -- and I submitted this to the record -- on June 12, Julian Assange had released that information to the media already. So it wasn't fake news, but it was old news in that regard.

CAVUTO: But, Congressman, I didn't hear you or your colleagues talk about the substance or the basis of the charges that Cohen was bringing up against the president.

Was that because either there wasn't time to do so, or you felt that there was nothing to defend there, that you were just deflecting?

MASSIE: Well, I think the president was exonerated somewhat in my line of questionings to Cohen.

I asked him if he knew what a good lawyer was. Does a good lawyer have a responsibility to provide good legal advice? And he said yes.

I asked him, was he a good lawyer when he made the payments to Ms. Clifford, because in his testimony this morning, what he said was, he didn't even consider whether it was right or wrong or the proper thing to do. He didn't care. He just did it.

I said, how could you be advising your client of the legality of this when you didn't care what the legality was? And he -- and so he tried to say he was a good...

CAVUTO: Well, isn't that -- I understand what you're saying there.

MASSIE: Yes.

CAVUTO: But is there anything that you heard from Michael Cohen, especially some of these transactions and statements that the president was making after he was president -- up until now, a lot of it had to do with what a candidate Trump was doing, what a businessman Trump was doing.

This is now, according to his personal lawyer, what he was doing as the president of the United States. Did you or your colleagues, Republican colleagues in particular, take on the substance or the veracity of those remarks?

Because I -- I didn't watch the whole thing, to be honest, Congressman. I didn't hear a lot of that.

MASSIE: Well, it didn't feel like there was any new news here. I mean, he produced the copy of a check, Mr. Cohen did, of a receipt. That's that's what he had, but I think everybody knew that already.

And other than that, if it wasn't written down, this guy is the least credible witness we have ever had. I mean, he's going to jail in two months for lying to Congress. So it was sort of a charade and a lot of theater today, if you didn't follow all of it.

But I think Cummings...

CAVUTO: All right, but didn't you feel compelled to take that on?

If someone is disparaging someone who you like and respect, the president of the United States...

MASSIE: Yes.

CAVUTO: ... and he was saying he is everything from a racist to a liar to a con man, no one seemed to feel compelled to vouch for the president on just any of those bases.

MASSIE: Well, I asked Cohen, because he was his lawyer, right?

CAVUTO: Right.

MASSIE: He was supposed to keep him out of trouble.

I asked him, was he a good lawyer? And he started telling me how he fixed all these things. I said, I didn't ask, are you a good fixer? Are you a good lawyer? He said, I'm a mix of both.

I mean, that was a tremendous admission there, that he wasn't even trying to be good lawyer to the president. He was trying to be a fixer of sorts.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But is this a problem that I guess -- I'm sorry to keep bemoaning this, Congressman.

MASSIE: Yes. No, please.

CAVUTO: That, on the substance here of what Cohen was charging...

MASSIE: Yes.

CAVUTO: ... there wasn't much disputing from -- I could see Democrats on the committee going along and this -- you're right, you're right, right.

But, obviously, you question the veracity and integrity of someone who is going to jail because he lied to Congress. I get that.

MASSIE: Right.

CAVUTO: But not the substance of his remarks, which were even more damning.

MASSIE: The only thing that has any veracity are the documents he presented.

This -- his remarks...

CAVUTO: Does that trouble? Do those documents trouble you?

MASSIE: They don't trouble me.

I mean, I -- because I think it's stuff we already knew.

CAVUTO: OK.

MASSIE: And the president's defense here is, this guy was his lawyer.

And, also, Cohen said that the president didn't tell him directly what to do, that he just did some of this stuff on his own. He admitted to that in this hearing. And I think Cummings wants to end his hearing, because it's not going well for him.

And he's got some of his most flamboyant members in his conference coming up next to ask questions.

CAVUTO: All right, Congressman, I know you have got to get back in there.

MASSIE: Yes.

CAVUTO: So we appreciate that.

That hearing with the House Oversight Committee is expected to resume any minute right now.

Let's go to The Washington Free Beacon's Liz Harrington.

Liz, if I can ask you the question I have asked others here, why today? Why did they have to do this today? I'm not minimizing the importance of hearing from Michael Cohen, but hearing from Michael Cohen on the exact same day the president is trying to negotiate a denuclearization agreement with the North Koreans.

Was it a drop-dead date, they had to do it today?

LIZ HARRINGTON, THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: Well, I think they had to do it today because they're more interested in reasons why President Trump won in 2016 than actual news and newsworthy stories of his diplomacy with North Korea, because the more consequential story is certainly the negotiations with Kim Jong-un.

But Democrats are still focused on 2016 and how President Trump won. So that's what they choose to elevate.

CAVUTO: The one thing I -- you might be right. I don't know.

But I do know that when -- a couple of weeks ago, when they had ironed out the details, down to the minute and the hour the day, about what was going to happen with the president of Vietnam negotiating with the North Koreans, they knew this.

The Democratic majority on the committee knew this. And I'm not dismissing the importance of eventually having a hearing, open or otherwise. But then knowing that in advance, you would think that someone would have volunteered, all right, doing it this very day might not be that crucial.

I mean, this guy is going to be going off to prison in a couple of months, right? So there is that. So why today?

HARRINGTON: They didn't have to do it today. They certainly didn't have to do it today. And I think they want to do it today to take away the news coverage and make it harder for President Trump to stay focused on his job as president, because they always choose the -- choose what's going to hurt President Trump the most.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Did any of this hurt him. Do you think in anything that you have heard -- and a lot of your colleagues have been in the hearing.

I know a lot has been focused on the Southern District of New York, of course, and what they're getting in their case to pursue the president and his business dealings dating back many years that have nothing to do with collusion.

But did anything come up here that, if you're the president, you're saying, oh, boy?

HARRINGTON: I don't think there's anything new.

I mean, the news that we have from Cohen is what we already know, that the media falsely reported that Trump directed him to lie to Congress. That -- Cohen said that wasn't true. Cohen said the main points in the dossier, which started this whole nonsense, also wasn't true.

He never went to Prague. So the big stories of why we're even here in the first place of trying to grapple with the results of the 2016 election, nothing new came out of it, and actually refuted all the Democrats' reasons for these investigations.

CAVUTO: One of the other things I just want to get, how do you think -- obviously, this started with Republicans on the committee saying, we got to put this off. There's no reason to do this, right, today.

Obviously, Democrats, now in the majority, made sure that didn't happen. I'm just wondering what happens then tomorrow in a closed-door meeting. Is this a follow-up on this or new -- new material?

HARRINGTON: I don't think there's actually much new material there.

I think Cohen -- everything we have known is the same stuff. And now he's just saying what Democrats want to hear, that Trump is a racist and a misogynist and everything else he can throw at him.

Everything else -- I mean, that's nothing new. And there's nothing new on the Russia stuff. He has no information. And the payments with the campaign finance violations, it's proven that Michael Cohen is not a great lawyer, because he pled guilty to a violation that isn't even a campaign finance violation, if the payment would have happened irrespective of the campaign, which we know President Trump would have paid off Stormy Daniels anyway if he wasn't running for president.

So, again, no real new information to go on.

CAVUTO: Do you know why Bob Mueller -- not -- maybe I'm ignorant here. He couldn't have controlled getting Cohen up there regardless, but why Bob Mueller would let this go on, would let Cohen go ahead and speak before Congress, especially in a public venue?

HARRINGTON: It's pretty amazing, actually.

I mean, this guy is going to jail. I don't know -- know what it gains him, except he's trying to ingratiate himself, I guess, to the media and to Democrats and to save his reputation. But nobody really believes him anymore.

I mean, you have plenty of reasons on all sides to not like this guy. And I don't know why Mueller would like him testifying either, when he might be perjuring himself again, right? We have already seen him say that he said -- told the committee today he didn't ever want a job in the White House.

And you had a lot of people have come out and say Cohen was specifically asking for a job in the White House. So he might be lying again today. So I'm really not sure why he was -- he thought it was a good idea.

I guess it was because the Democrats would have subpoenaed him.

CAVUTO: All right, there's no chance that anything he says or does or cooperates with here will change the fact that he's still facing three years in jail, right?

HARRINGTON: Right. Exactly.

CAVUTO: So, then what do Democrats get out of this, outside of to embarrass the president, right?

HARRINGTON: Nothing, except to beat up on Trump, which is their agenda from day one. And it's another perfect example.

They can continue on and on and say, oh, look, we have another guy calling him a sexist and a racist.

CAVUTO: Right.

HARRINGTON: But there's no actual criminal crime here. There's no collusion. And there's really, sadly, nothing new.

CAVUTO: So what I'm wondering, if all of this is true, what Michael Cohen has raised, and he was working with him for the better part of a decade, why did he put up with it for so long?

(LAUGHTER)

HARRINGTON: That's, I think, to me the biggest question or the biggest problem that Trump supporters will have with the president, is, why did he employ this guy for so long?

He's supposed to have the best judgment of hiring the best people, but this guy is clearly not the most credible, honest, good guy. To his own -- he called himself not a nice guy today in the hearing, but that might be the biggest question that Trump supporters will still have.

CAVUTO: Then what happens? I mean, does this weigh into the public perception here of this, whether people are hearing for the first time things that they didn't hear?

I mean, a lot of people in the know and have been following, this is not exactly FOX News Alerts here, but others who might become aware of it, it's a first for them. Then what?

HARRINGTON: Well, that's the question, right? Who is following this story, other than far left people who are, I guess, at bars in D.C. getting their drink specials to watch the Cohen hearing, right?

(LAUGHTER)

HARRINGTON: Is their mind going to be changed that they think Trump is a Russian stooge? No.

The rest of the country, a lot of them probably don't know who Michael Cohen is. They're not paying attention. They have long since tuned out. And then people on the right tuning in to FOX News right now, they probably have their ideas too that it does not matter.

CAVUTO: All right.

HARRINGTON: They knew who Donald Trump was when he was running, and nothing that Cohen says and the campaign finance stuff changes that.

CAVUTO: And then we will see. And then we will see.

Liz, thank you very, very much.

HARRINGTON: You bet.

CAVUTO: It looks like this hearing is resuming right now. This is going to start getting interesting, then, because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to be among the questioners and others.

It could get feisty. In fact, I think it's safe to say it will.

We're waiting to get a little order. Not all the members are there, I understand. But you're going to hear a lot more from people who have been champing at the bit to get a chance to do some of the questioning here.

This is one of the advantages of the party in power having the power to dictate pretty much the course of events in the hearing itself. That old line that elections have consequences, this is a direct consequence of a midterm election that put Democrats in charge of the House and the majority of the House and all key committees, including the House Oversight Committee.

One of the things that we are learning right now is this bad blood that existed between the president and Michael Cohen actually went back and forth, with some feisty back-and-forths, for the better part of a decade.

Also known as the president's fixer, Michael Cohen was well-versed in some of the deals and the check payoffs and others, that he said the president was intimately aware and had lied to the American people.

The Trump administration has been very cautious to respond in any way at all to this, developments half-a-world away in Vietnam, as he prepares to sit down and negotiate some sort of agreement with the North Koreans on their nuclear capabilities.

But this, no doubt, as you heard from Lieutenant General Boykin, telling me that it did muddy the waters with the president and maybe compromised him over there, trying to work on America's behalf for an agreement that would do just, denuclearize North Korea.

This very messy political affair back in this country is all anyone is talking about. And to the general chagrin, the problem is that that makes scoring a deal with the North Koreans much more difficult.

Michael Cohen is testifying here. We can assume that he has been cleared by Bob Mueller to go ahead and say what he is saying. The fact of the matter is, he's going to be facing prison in just a couple of months and probably for upwards of three years. So nothing he says here will change that.

Former Justice Department prosecutor and Ifrah law partner Jim Trusty joins us now, as we await the resumption of this hearing.

What do you think so far?

JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think a lot of people are going to see what they want to see or hear what they want to hear.

But I think there's two real interesting issues, one of which Andy McCarthy brought up a couple of hours ago, which is, Cohen started referring to himself as cooperating, present tense, with the Southern District of New York.

I'm not sure I buy that. I don't think they would let him take the witness stand. But that's really intriguing, whether there's still life to a campaign finance reform or whatever else -- campaign finance law or whatever else they are looking at, kind of investigations.

So that's one that I think really needs some follow-up. And I would be really interested to see if the Southern District confirms it or denies it.

CAVUTO: That's been your concern, too. We're so focused on Mueller and the probe, that we haven't looked at what's happening in the Southern District.

I know Chris Christie on his book tour has been saying much the same thing, that that is where the president should be worried. Do you agree?

TRUSTY: I think that's a pretty good guess.

I mean, we're all in the dark a little bit. I think a report could still come out that would be very hurtful to the president from the Mueller probe, even if it falls short of being a blueprint for impeachment.

But the Southern District of New York, when you look at the pleadings, the sentencing memo that involves Cohen up there, it looked like a pretty active investigation that was aimed at least in part at the president. So that may be the one to worry about.

But, again, I can't imagine that they would say go on and go to your mea culpa tour and go to testify in front of Congress all day if they really wanted to use him as a live body someday as a witness.

CAVUTO: The fact that a lot of this goes back to business dealings that go back many years, and I'm wondering precious little about collusion, what do you think?

TRUSTY: Right.

I mean, even Cohen kind of fell short on that today, said, well, I have my suspicions.

CAVUTO: Right.

TRUSTY: Well, suspicions from him isn't going to cut it.

CAVUTO: Right.

TRUSTY: So I don't know that collusion is going to be in play, but SDNY could be.

CAVUTO: Thank you, Jim.

Back to the hearing right now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MD: ... foreign entities. We said we would give you a chance to consult with your attorneys.

Have you done that? And do you have any additional information?

COHEN: My four attorneys continued to believe, as they did before, that the language of the truth in testimony form, which I was given and signed to just right before this hearing, and which requires disclosure of any contracts or payments from foreign governments in the last two years, did not apply to my work for BTA Bank, which is Kazakh-owned entity.

They advised that had entities been intended for disclosure, that word would have been in the disclosure definition. However, if the committee's counsel has a different view, that I should disclose my contract with BTA Bank, we'd be willing to do that.

CUMMINGS: All right, now...

REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: Mr. Chairman?

CUMMINGS: Let me finish.

MEADOWS: Sure.

CUMMINGS: I want to understand clearly you are -- you sought the advice of your counsel. Is that right?

COHEN: That's correct.

CUMMINGS: And your counsel advised you to say what you just said? Is that right?

COHEN: That's correct.

CUMMINGS: And you know that to be the truth; is that right?

COHEN: Yes, sir.

CUMMINGS: I will yield two gentlemen from North Carolina.

MEADOWS: I thank the chairman for his courtesy.

Mr. Chairman, instead of making points of order and going back and forth on this, perhaps a way to solve this is for the chairman to request Mr. Cohen give to this committee all the foreign payments that he has received over the last two years whether they're an entity or a government, because we have strong belief, Mr. Chairman, there is over $900,000 that came from the government of Kazakstan on behalf of Mr. Cohen.

And it is either the truth or the whole truth and nothing but the truth and -- and the rules as Mr. Chair -- Chairman really look at foreign payments that come from or with foreign governments. And -- and -- and the bank he's talking about is owned 81 percent by the Kazakstan government.

CUMMINGS: I'm reclaiming my time -- reclaiming my time and then we're going to move on. What I will take -- first of all, let me be clear, I said to Mr. Cohen that if he came in here and lied, I would nail him to the cross. Didn't I? Didn't I tell you that?

COHEN: Yes, you did, more than once.

CUMMINGS: All right. So if there's any ambiguity, I want to be cleared up. I have no problem in working with you to make sure that's straightened out, but I don't want to be a thing where he thinks the one thing, we think one thing, and we can -- we can clear that up, all right? All right, we have a number of members that have been waiting.

JORDAN: I just want to add something if I can, Mr. Chairman.

CUMMINGS: Go ahead.

JORDAN: I don't think we should limit it just to the BTA Bank, which has affiliation with Kazakstan. I think we should also look at Korea Aerospace industries, one of his other clients and any other client that's foreign that may have some connection to that respective country's government.

I hope him and his attorneys look at all those and we get the form exactly right, as Mr. Meadows wants.

CUMMINGS: Reclaiming my time. We will take that certainly under advisement. You are -- I'm a man of my word, we would do -- we will work with you and see what we can do to come up with that. I don't think that it's an unreasonable request.

Mr. Khanna. Hello, Mr. Khanna? Yes, yes.

REP. RO KHANNA, D-CALIF.: Mr. Cohen, I want to focus my questions on the smoking gun document you have provided this committee. This document is compelling evidence of federal and state crimes, including financial fraud.

You provided this committee with a check from President Donald J. Trump's revocable trust account which is marked as Exhibit 5B. It is a check for $35,000 and it is dated March 17, 2017, after the president took office. It's right now on the screen. Do you see it, sir?

COHEN: Yes, sir.

KHANNA: To be clear, the Trump Revocable Trust is the trust the president set up to hold his assets after he became president. Is that correct?

COHEN: I believe so.

KHANNA: You know why you were paid from the trust as opposed to the president's personal account?

COHEN: I don't know the answer to that.

KHANNA: Did you think it was odd that he paid you once from his personal account and then he's paying you through the scheme of a trust?

COHEN: I will be honest, I was just happy to get the check.

KHANNA: Today you testified that the check was signed by Donald Trump Jr. and the Trump Organization, CFO, Allen Weisselberg. Is that correct?

COHEN: That is correct.

KHANNA: According to the criminal charges against you, you sent monthly invoices containing false information to an individual identified as Executive One. Weisselberg is Executive One, correct?

COHEN: Yes.

KHANNA: The criminal charge against you then states that Executive One forwarded your invoice to someone referred to as Executive Two, presumably Donald Trump Jr., who is signing this check is Executive Two. Correct?

COHEN: I believe so.

KHANNA: As federal prosecutors laid out in their criminal charges, payments like this check resulted in numerous false statements in the books and records of the Trump organization. It's important for the American public to understand this.

It is nothing to do with collusion. This is financial fraud -- garden variety financial fraud. It was disguised as a payment for legal services to you but this was not a payment for legal services was it Mr. Cohen?

COHEN: No, sir.

KHANNA: It could give rise to serious state and federal criminal liability if a corporation is cooking its books. Based on your testimony today, Donald Trump Jr., and Alan Weisselberg directed this payment to you and approved this payment. Is that right?

COHEN: Mr. Trump initially acknowledged the obligation, the debt. Myself and Allen Weisselberg went back to his office and I was instructed by Allen at the time that they were going to do this over 12 installments and what he decided to do then was have me send an invoice in which case they can have a check cut and then, yes. The answer would be yes to your follow up.

KHANNA: And Donald Trump Jr., obviously signed off on this?

COHEN: Yes, it would either be Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and/or Allen Weisselberg, but always Allen Weisselberg on the check.

KHANNA: And you think Executive Two is Donald Trump Jr.?

COHEN: Yes.

KHANNA: They knew that this payment was false and illegal. Correct?

COHEN: I -- I can't make that conclusion.

KHANNA: You told Representative Kelly that the president was aware of this scheme. Is that correct?

COHEN: That's correct.

KHANNA: I just want the American public to understand the explosive nature of your testimony in this document. Are you telling us, Mr. Cohen, that the president directed transactions, in conspiracy with Allen Weisselberg and his son, Donald Trump Jr., as part of a civil criminal -- part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud. Is that your testimony today?

COHEN: Yes.

KHANNA: And do you know if this criminal financial scheme that the president, Allen Weisselberg and Donald Trump Jr., are involved in is being investigated by the Southern District of New York?

COHEN: I would rather not discuss that question because it could be part of an investigation that's currently ongoing.

KHANNA: But I just want the American public to understand that's solely apart from Bob Mueller's investigation, there is garden variety financial fraud and your allegation and the explosive smoking gun documents suggest the president, his son, and his CFO may be involved in a criminal conspiracy and isn't it true, Mr. Cohen, that this criminal conspiracy that involved four people, that there is only one person so far who suffered the repercussions and that is why you are in jail?

COHEN: Will be going to jail. Yes.

KHANNA: There were three other people, though, who were equally involved in this conspiracy. Is that true?

COHEN: Yes, it is true.

KHANNA: Thank you Mr. Cohen. I yield back my time.

CUMMINGS: Mr. Gomez.

REP. JIMMY GOMEZ, D-CALIF.: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Cohen, I'm going to tackle the president's tax returns. During the 2016 campaign you said you personally wouldn't -- quote -- "allow him to release those returns until the audits are over" -- unquote.

For the record, nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax returns even while under audit by the IRS. Mr. Cohen, do you know whether President Trump's tax returns were really under audit by the IRS in 2016?

COHEN: I don't know the answer. I asked for a copy of the audit so that I could use it in terms of my statements to the press and I was never able to obtain one.

GOMEZ: OK. So do you have any inside knowledge about what was in the president's tax returns that he refused to release?

COHEN: I -- I do not.

GOMEZ: Can you give us any insight into what the real reason is that the president has refused to release his tax returns?

COHEN: Statements that he had said to me is that what he did not want was to have an entire group of think tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces and then he will end up in an audit and until ultimately have tax -- taxable consequences, penalties, and so on.

GOMEZ: So that's an interesting point that basically said he did not want to release his tax returns because he might end up in an audit. So could you presume from that statement that he wasn't under audit?

COHEN: I presume that he is not under audit.

GOMEZ: And the reason why I bring this up because I'm also the only democrat on this committee that also serves on the committee of Ways and Means; it's the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives and its the only committee in the House of Representatives has jurisdiction to request an American's tax returns and that includes the President of the United States.

My constituents need to know whether the president has financial ties that are causing him to protect his own bottom line rather than the best interest of this country.

Can he be blackmailed because of his financial and business ventures, including by foreign governments, and I know that the opposition is the first thing they're going to ask or say is that he released his financial disclosure forms. But I believe there are other things we can learn from his taxes.

Do you -- do you have any idea what we can learn in his tax returns if we actually received -- we got our hands on them?

COHEN: No, I have seen them, I just have never gone through them, they are quite long.

GOMEZ: Quite long.

One of the things I also find ironic is the way they're kind of attacking you is to undermine your credibility is one of the ways is by saying that you committed bank fraud and tax evasion. And the reason why it's a big deal is that it really goes down to the person's character when it comes to taxes but yet the republican minority has never asked to see his taxes, right?

Something that for 40 years Democrats and Republicans alike have released their tax returns to prove to the American people that they didn't have financial interests that would be leverageable by a foreign government, but this minority refuses to ask for his tax returns.

I also want to kind of go on. I am noticing a pattern -- I am noticing a pattern about the president and those in his inner circle. Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has indicted or received guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies that we know of, the latest being long-term Trump adviser Roger Stone.

That group includes six former Trump advisers. It appears that the present has a fondness for entrusting those who will, one, lie for him, two, break the law for him, three, cheat the system for him. Essentially, he wants to surround himself with people who are just like him.

Would you agree with that statement?

COHEN: From the facts and circumstances, it appears so.

GOMEZ: Mr. Cohen, the American people have a lot of questions when it comes to this president, to his conduct, when he went to Helsinki and he bowed before down Vladimir Putin. And nobody can really understand why he acts the way he acts.

And we believe that the way we get those answers is really looking at everybody that surrounds him, who he has been associated with, and his tax returns because that is the only way that we can get down to the to the bottom line.

Thank you and I yield back.

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, I have a unanimous consent request.

CUMMINGS: All right. Go ahead.

MEADOWS: I asked unanimous consent that we read into -- or for the record a tweet from Dr. Darrell Scott, which says: "Michael Cohen asked, no, begged me repeatedly to ask POTUS to give him a job in the administration. He is still lying under oath." I ask unanimous consent.

CUMMINGS: No objections.

MEADOWS: I have one more from Bo Dietl: "Getting sick watching these hearings. I know Michael Cohen personally for many years and he told me several times that he was very angry and upset that he didn't get a post in the White House and that he 'would do what he has to do' now to protect his family." I ask that that be...

CUMMINGS: No objections.

MEADOWS: I thank you.

JORDAN: Mr. Chairman, two quick ones...

CUMMINGS: Then we've got other ones. We're going to do you, Mr. Ranking Member, then we'll do the other ones at the end because I have some things too that I want to get in.

JORDAN: All right. I ask unanimous consent that an article in Salon magazine written by Stanley Brand, former House counsel to Tip O'Neill. The title the article is "Oversight Committee Session with Michael Cohen Looks like an Illegitimate Show Hearing."

CUMMINGS: Without objection, so ordered.

JORDAN: I ask unanimous consent that a letter that Mr. Meadows and I sent to you, the chairman requesting that you call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to testify at this hearing also be part of the record.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CUMMINGS: Part of the record.

(CROSSTALK)

COHEN: Mr. Chairman, can I respond?

CUMMINGS: Just one second, all right?

The article by Mr. Brand, I just want to deal with this one right away.

We -- when we saw that article, Mr. Ranking Member, we knew that it was inaccurate. Let me just -- on basics, the case is that Mr. Brand views are definitely distinguishable for what is going on here. And so we got the Irvin B. Nathan, former general counsel of the House from 2007 to 2010, and he says in short "the committee has ample jurisdictional responsibility to hear and consider the upcoming voluntary testimony of Mr. Cohen. That's dated February 2019, 25th of 2019.

And I want to enter that into record, without objection, so ordered. Where are we?

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-N.Y.: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Cohen, I would like to quickly pick up on some previous lines of questioning before getting into my own. So I may go a little quickly to get it all in five minutes.

First, my colleague from Vermont had you asked several questions about AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer.

And in that you mentioned a treasure trove -- a treasure trove of documents in David Pecker's office relating the information assembled from all of these "catch and kill" operations against people who potentially had damaging information on the president.

You also mentioned that the president was very concerned about the whereabouts of these documents and who possessed them. Does that treasure trove of documents still exist?

COHEN: I don't know. I had asked David Pecker for them.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you would say the person who knows the whereabouts of these documents would be David Pecker.

COHEN: David Pecker, Barry Levine, or Dylan Howard.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: OK. Thank you. Secondly, I want to ask a little bit about your conversation with my colleague from Missouri about asset inflation. To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?

COHEN: Yes.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Who else knows that the president did this?

COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman, and Matthew Calamari.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?

COHEN: Yes. And you would find it at the Trump Org.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you very much.

The last thing here. The Trump Golf organization currently has a golf course in my home borough of the Bronx, Trump Links. I drive past it every day going between the Bronx and Queens. In fact, The Washington Post reported on the Trump Links Bronx course in an article entitled "Taxpayers Built this New York Golf Course and Trump Reaps the Rewards."

That article is where many New Yorkers and people in the country learned that taxpayers spent $127 million to build Trump Links in a "generous deal allowing President Trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in on a golf course built with public funds."

And this doesn't seem to be the only time the president has benefited at the expense of the public. Mr. Cohen, I want to ask you about your assertion that the president may improperly devalued his assets to avoid paying taxes.

According to an August 24th -- August 21st 2016 report by The Washington Post: "While the president claimed in financial disclosure forms that Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, was worth more than 50 million, he had reported otherwise to local tax authorities that the course was worth 'no more than 5 million'."

Mr. Cohen, do you know whether this specific report is accurate?

COHEN: It is identical to what he did at Trump National Golf Club at Briarcliff Manor.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Do you know -- to your knowledge, was the president interested in reducing his local real estate bills, tax bills?

COHEN: Yes.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And how do you do that?

COHEN: What you do is you deflate the value of the asset and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you. Now on October 2018, The New York Times revealed that "President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents."

It further stated for Mr. Trump: "He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents' real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing his tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings."

Mr. Cohen, do you know whether that specific report is accurate?

COHEN: I don't. I wasn't there in the 1990s.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Who would know the answer to those questions?

COHEN: Allen Weisselberg.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: And would it help for the committee to obtain federal and state tax returns from the president and his company to address that discrepancy?

COHEN: I believe so.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Thank you very much.

I yield the rest of my time to the chair.

CUMMINGS: Mr. Pressley.

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY, D-MASS.: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

One more time, Mr. Chairman, I just want to thank you for your leadership and the way in which you comport yourself. And I know there are some that would have you believe the more you say something the more true it is. But in fact, this committee, thanks to your leadership and our Democratic majority, has been doing the work of the American people.

Before this committee alone, we looked at the issue of making Election Day a federal holiday, reducing drug pricing and pursued subpoenas to reunite families, and just recently, before we return to here, tried to pass a universal background check gun bill. So we are doing the business of the American people, including today.

It has been said that the best sunlight -- sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants. Electric light is the most efficient policeman. Well, let there be light, because the point of the oversight is for us to pursue the trust, to pursue the truth and justice for the American people, to understand if lies, deceit and corruption are threatening American Democracy and indeed our safety.

Mr. Chairman, charities should not be abused as personal piggy banks. It is both against the law and extremely unfair to charities that play by the rules. A line of questioning that we have not yet addressed and been glaringly absent in tackling is that of the abuses of the Trump Foundation.

Now the president's charitable foundation agreed to dissolve, in response to an ongoing investigation and lawsuit by the New York attorney general. The New York attorney general found what it called -- quote -- "clear and repeated violations of state and federal law," including -- quote -- "repeated and willful self dealing by the Trump administration." My apologies, "by the foundation."

If I understand your opening statement correctly, in mid-2013, you arranged for a straw purchaser to bid $60,000 for a portrait Mr. Trump, painted by the artist William Quigley, at a charity auction. Is that correct?

COHEN: That's correct.

PRESSLEY: Why would the president want to bid up the price of something that he was ultimately paying for?

COHEN: It's all about ego.

PRESSLEY: How was it paid for?

COHEN: I believe it was paid for by a check from the trust.

PRESSLEY: An abuse. And again, you know, this is not a -- a partisan pursuit here. I think ultimately what we're demonstrating is patriotism. This is about what is right and just for the American people. Did the straw purchaser purchase the painting, and then the foundation funds reimbursed the straw purchaser? Can you explain the mechanics of that payment?

COHEN: I'm not involved with the foundation.

PRESSLEY: OK. Did the president know what was happening?

COHEN: Oh, yes.

PRESSLEY: And how did you know he knew what was happening?

COHEN: Because he tasked me to find the straw bidder to ensure that his painting, which was going last in the auction, would go for the highest amount of any of the paintings that had been put on the auction block for the day.

PRESSLEY: And what happened to the painting?

COHEN: I believe it's in one of the clubs.

PRESSLEY: OK. According to the New York attorney general, on March 2014, Mr. Trump again used the foundation to pay $10,000 for the winning bid on another portrait of Mr. Trump that ended up as decor in one his golf courses in Miami. Mr. Cohen, are you familiar with that transaction?

COHEN: Yes.

PRESSLEY: Are you aware of any other instances where the Trump Foundation was used to benefit the Trump family?

COHEN: Yes.

PRESSLEY: Could you elaborate?

COHEN: So there was a contract that I ended up creating on Mr. Trump's behalf for -- it was a Ukrainian oligarch by the name of Victor Pinchuk.

And it was that Mr. Trump was asked to come into participate in what was the Ukrainian-American Economic Forum. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to go, but I was able to negotiate 15 minutes by Skype, where they would have a camera, very much like a television camera, very much like that one.

And they would translate Mr. Trump to the questioner, and then he would respond back. And I negotiated a fee of $150,000 for 15 minutes. I was directed by Mr. Trump to have the contract done in the name of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, as opposed to Donald J. Trump or services rendered.

PRESSLEY: Thank you. Any other abuses of the foundation that you'd like to share? Again, it is against the law and again extremely unfair to charities that are playing by the rules.

COHEN: Not at this time. But if I think of one, I will pass it along.

PRESSLEY: OK. And then for the balance of my time, would you agree that someone could deny rental units to African-Americans, lead the birther movement, refer to the Diaspora as "shithole countries," and refer to white supremacists as "fine people," have a black friend and still be racist?

COHEN: Yes.

PRESSLEY: I agree.

CUMMINGS: The gentlelady's time has expired. You may -- you may answer the question.

COHEN: I did, yes.

CUMMINGS: Oh, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman. I have two unanimous consents. Since we're -- we're finishing up, before we get done, I want to go ahead and...

CUMMINGS: OK. Just give me -- give me one second. I just wanted to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

CUMMINGS: ... I wanted to get to Ms. Tlaib, and then I will come to you. OK?

Ms. Tlaib -- and they've been waiting all day, but Ms. Tlaib.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, D-MICH.: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, all of you, for centering this committee on our sole purpose, is exposing the truth. And some of my colleagues can't handle the truth, and this is unfortunate because it's the center of what is protecting our country right now.

The people at home are frustrated, Mr. Cohen, and they want criminal schemes to stop, especially those from the Oval Office. Mr. Cohen, I am upset and know that my residents feel the same way, that man you worked for, for the past 10 years, is using the most powerful position in the world to hurt our country solely for personal gain.

We are upset that some of our colleagues here are so disconnected of what it means to have this president of the United States sending checks to cover bribe payments, not hush payments, bribe payments, you made on his behalf -- one in 2017 of March and another, August 2017, after he was sworn in as president.

They are upset that, while my colleagues are trying to discredit your testimony by some of your own unlawful acts and lies, that they are disconnected with the fact that you were the personal lawyer for this president of the United States, that this president chose you as his legal counsel.

My stance has always been the same, Mr. Chairman, based on the facts, not on future reports that we're all waiting on. My residents back home don't need a collusion cause with a foreign government to know this president, Individual 1, has disregarded the law of the land, the United States Constitution, and that he has misused has pardon powers.

In the sentencing memo, Mr. Cohen, filed by the federal prosecutors in December of last year, they stated -- quote -- "In particular, and as Cohen himself has not admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual 1."

Mr. Cohen, as you know, Donald J. Trump brand comes first, not the American people. Based on what you know now, based on what we know now, has that Individual 1 used his money, businesses and platform to enrich -- to enrich himself, his brand, and in the process, directed you, Mr. Cohen, to commit multiple felonies and you covered it up? Correct?

COHEN: That's correct.

TLAIB: You called it protecting his brand. Correct?

COHEN: And to him as well.

TLAIB: Mr. Cohen, with this, do you think the president of the United States is making decisions in the best interest of the American people?

COHEN: No, I don't.

TLAIB: Especially those you said that he used horrible words about like African-Americans, Muslim Americans and immigrants?

COHEN: Yes.

TLAIB: Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman, just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them does not mean they aren't racist.

And it is insensitive that -- some would even say it's -- the fact that someone would actually use a prop -- a black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.

Donald Trump is setting...

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, I ask that her words be taken down...

TLAIB: Donald Trump is setting a precedent -- I reclaim my time.

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman...

TLAIB: Donald Trump is setting a precedent...

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman...

TLAIB: That the highest office can be attained...

(CROSSTALK)

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, the rules are clear.

(CROSSTALK)

TLAIB: ... illegal activity, cover up and hold on to business assets to break campaign finance laws, and Constitutional clauses.

What we have here, Mr. Chairman, is criminal conduct, in the pursuit of the highest public office by Mr. Cohen and Individual 1. I hope that the gravity of this situation hits everyone in this body...

(CROSSTALK)

TLAIB: ... and in Congress and across this country.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield the rest of my time.

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, I ask that her words, when she's referring to an individual member of this body, be taken down and stricken from the record.

I'm sure she didn't intend to do this, but if anyone knows my record as it relates -- it should be you, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman...

CUMMINGS: All right...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to...

CUMMINGS: Hold on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want the words read back...

CUMMINGS: No, no, no -- no, no...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to know exactly what she said...

CUMMINGS: No, excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a colleague.

CUMMINGS: Excuse me.

Would you like to rephrase that statement, Ms. Tlaib?

TLAIB: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I can actually read it from here.

Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman, that just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them does not mean they aren't racist. And it is insensitive that someone would even say racist -- say it is racist in itself, and to use a black woman as a prop to prove it otherwise.

And I can submit this for the record, if a colleague is thinking that that's what I'm saying -- I'm just saying, that's what I believe to have happened. And as a person of color in this committee, that's how I felt at that moment and I wanted to express that. But I am not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows, a racist for doing so.

I'm saying that, in itself, it is a racist act.

MEADOWS: Well, I hope not, Mr. Chairman because I need to be clear on this particular -- Mr. Chairman...

CUMMINGS: Mr. Meadows, wait a minute.

MEADOWS: I have defended you, with false...

(CROSSTALK)

CUMMINGS: Mr. Meadows, I'm the chair.

MEADOWS: Yes, sir, you are.

CUMMINGS: Thank you. I will clear this up.

Now, Ms. Tlaib, is it -- I want to make sure I understand. You did not -- you were not intending to call Mr. Meadows a racist, is that right?

TLAIB: No, Mr. Chairman, I do not call Mr. Meadows a racist. I am trying...

CUMMINGS: Wait a minute -- hold on.

TLAIB: ... as a person of color, Mr. Chairman, just to express myself and how I felt at that moment. And so, just for the record, that's what was my intention.

CUMMINGS: All right.

Mr. Meadows?

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, there's nothing more personal to me than my relationship. My nieces and nephews are people of color. Not many people know that. You know that, Mr. Chairman.

And to indicate that I asked someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family, who has worked for him, who knows this particular individual that she's coming in to be a prop? It's racist to suggest that I asked her to come in here for that reason.

Mr. President -- the president's own person, she's a family member, and she loves this family. She came in because she felt like the president of the United States was getting falsely accused.

And, Mr. Chairman, you are -- you and I have a personal relationship that's not based on color.

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