Testimony on Wednesday from Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s prison-bound ex-friend and fixer, served up plenty of major revelations about the real estate heir’s rise to the presidency. But some of the most riveting claims came in response to questions from Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna.
Instead of using his allotted five minutes to speechify, Khanna got Cohen to admit Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s direct involvement in criminal conspiracy by zeroing in on a hush-money check which he called the “smoking gun.”
Though the elder Trump has assiduously denied it, Cohen says he was told to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a 2006 sexual encounter with the future president. Cohen says he fronted the $130,000 and was later reimbursed in installments made to look like he was being paid a legal retainer.
One of those payments was signed by Trump Jr. and Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg. Another—a $35,000 check signed in March 2017 by Trump himself—was submitted as an exhibit ahead of Wednesday’s testimony.
Khanna wanted to emphasize the source of those funds: a trust Trump formed before his inauguration to cede control of his business. Together, the payments pretty clearly indicate that Trump was involved in the scheme, which Khanna described as “garden variety financial fraud.” His questioning also prompted Cohen to identify Trump Jr. as the “Executive 2” mentioned in “charging documents” filed by prosecutors last year.
“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 criminal conspiracy of financial fraud?” Khanna asked. “Is that your testimony today?”
Cohen answered affirmatively before divulging another new detail: that federal prosecutors are looking to answer that very question.
Watch the full exchange below.