Michael Cohen is to accuse Donald Trump of being a “racist”, a “conman” and a “cheat” who had advanced knowledge that a longtime adviser was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, according to opening testimony he will deliver to Congress on Wednesday.
Cohen’s prepared remarks, confirmed by the Guardian, include a series of explosive allegations about the presidential campaign.
The president’s former lawyer, who will publicly testify before the House oversight committee on Wednesday, will state that Trump was told by long-time confidant Roger Stone that WikiLeaks would publish emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr Trump put Mr Stone on the speakerphone,” Cohen’s opening statement reads.
“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 emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’”
“Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” he will add.
Trump hit back from Hanoi, where he is attending a summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
“Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also,” Trump tweeted.“He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time,” Trump wrote.
In his statement, Cohen also suggest his instructions to lie to Congress about a possible Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the 2016 campaign came from the president – albeit not directly.
“In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” Cohen will say. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.”
“Mr Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” he will add.
Cohen will also tell the committee he believes Trump is a “racist”.
“The country has seen Mr Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘shitholes’,” he will say, according to the testimony. “In private, he is even worse.”
He is set to provide the committee with copies of the wire transfer he made to the porn actor Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, during the closing days of the presidential campaign and of a $35,000 check dated 1 August 2017 that Cohen alleges he received from Trump to reimburse him for those efforts.
“The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws,” Cohen is expected to allege.
Cohen is also expected to depict Trump as an opportunist. “He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity,” Cohen writes in the opening statement.
Cohen’s public testimony comes one day after he was interviewed under oath by the Senate intelligence committee in the first of three congressional appearances this week.
Cohen, who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but has since turned against his former boss, appeared before the Senate panel in a closed session on Tuesday.
Cohen will be testifying under penalty of perjury but will probably be met with skepticism from Republicans who will seek to draw attention to a track record of dishonesty.
Tensions rose ahead of the long-awaited session, when Trump ally Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, appeared to threaten Cohen on Twitter.
“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” he tweeted. “Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot …”
He later deleted the tweet and apologized.
The White House earlier sought to discredit Cohen before the hearings began.
The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, issued a statement saying he was “going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements”.
Sanders said it was “laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies”.
Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison in December for crimes including lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia, and facilitating illegal payments. Cohen is set to surrender on 6 May to begin his sentence, as ordered by a federal judge.
In his guilty plea, Cohen said: “I made these misstatements to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1.” Individual 1 was a reference to Trump.
Trump denies the allegations and says Cohen lied to get a lighter sentence.
Cohen also plans to tell US lawmakers are likely to hear Cohen testify that Trump asked him several times about a proposed skyscraper project in Moscow long after he secured the Republican presidential nomination.
Cohen’s assertion that Trump was inquiring about the project as late as June 2016, if true, would show Trump remained personally interested in a business venture in Russia well into his candidacy.
On 29 November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by telling lawmakers in 2017 that all efforts relating to the Moscow project had ceased by January 2016. In fact, Cohen said, those efforts continued until June 2016.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion took place between his campaign and Moscow.
Cohen’s week of interviews come as House Democrats launch multiple investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia and conflict-of-interest issues within the administration. House Republicans in the last Congress investigated whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia, but ended that inquiry over Democratic objections, saying that there was no evidence that they did so. The Senate’s Russia investigation continues.
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this article