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FEATURING MARCY WHEELER – President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen gave an explosive testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. During his opening remarks he called Trump, “a racist, a conman, and a cheat.” He also cited several bombshell examples of private interactions he had with Trump where the President expressed strongly racist sentiments. Cohen showed on the record a copy of a check signed by Trump to pay him back for hush-money payments made to two women he had apparently had affairs with.

After Cohen’s opening remarks, Committee members had the chance to question him at length. Republican Committee members appeared to focus on a handful of talking points: that Cohen was a liar and therefore couldn’t be trusted; that Cohen was only looking for fame through a book or movie deal; or that Cohen was bitter about Trump not giving him a White House position.

The day before the hearing, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz posted a tweet that sounded like an overt threat and blackmail attempt. He wrote, “Hey @MichaelCohen212- Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? 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…” Gaetz defended his tweet to reporters later saying that it wasn’t “witness tampering,” rather that it was “witness testing.”

Marcy Wheeler, independent journalist specializing in civil liberties, privacy, and the “war on terror.” She blogs at emptywheel.net.

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