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Michael Cohen testimony: Trump is a 'racist, conman, cheat'

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US President's former 'fixer' to testify that Trump told him to lie

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen will tell Congress that the American leader is a "racist" and "conman" and knew WikiLeaks would publish dirt on Mrs Hillary Clinton, US media reported.

Cohen will state Mr Trump essentially instructed him to lie about a real estate project he had in the works in Russia while running for president in 2016, according to a prepared statement by Cohen provided to The New York Times and other US news outlets.

Yesterday's testimony was the second of three on Capitol Hill. Tuesday's first session at the Senate was held behind closed doors.

Cohen, 52, worked with Mr Trump for more than 12 years, becoming vice-president of the Trump Organisation, where he was Mr Trump's "fixer".

Last year, Cohen pleaded guilty to illegally using campaign funds for hush money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr Trump, who denies the liaisons.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in testimony in 2017 when he sought to cover up Mr Trump's pursuit of the Moscow real estate project during the presidential election campaign. Cohen will soon start serving three years in prison.

"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 lied about the real estate deal because he did not expect to win the election and because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars from the project, according to Cohen's statement.

He will say he is sorry for what he calls his misplaced loyalty.

"I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat," Cohen will say.

He will state Mr Trump had advanced knowledge through long-time adviser Roger Stone that WikiLeaks planned to publish hacked e-mails from the Clinton campaign.

Cohen will say he does not have direct evidence Mr Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia to defeat Mrs Clinton but that he had suspicions. - AFP