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Michael Cohen to accuse Trump of racism, criminal activity at hearing

Cohen to accuse Trump of criminal conduct

President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen will publicly accuse the president of criminal conduct and racism during his public hearing on Wednesday, CBS News has confirmed. Cohen's hearing is related to hush money payments to women who alleged to have affairs with Mr. Trump in the months leading up to the election.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Cohen will provide documents, prepared by Mr. Trump's accountant, that will show the president may have engaged in tax fraud, CBS News correspondent Paula Reid reports. This could be the basis for lawmakers or investigators to pursue Trump's tax returns. The source confirms that Cohen will also accuse the president of using racist language. His comments are described as "chilling" - this language was allegedly used in a series of personal conversations between Mr. Trump and Cohen. 

Cohen is set to serve time in prison for lying to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees in 2017. Some Republican lawmakers will likely use that fact to blunt the impact the allegations Cohen has made against the president during Wednesday's appearance before the House Oversight Committee.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement following the release of details of Cohen's testimony, "Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements.  Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same,"

Sanders added, "It's 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."

During a closed-door hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that could last hours, investigators from the Senate Intelligence Committee are expected to grill Cohen about his involvement in plans to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow and whether the president directed him to lie to Congress. 

Cohen's closed session testimony, which is hailed as one of the last bastions of bipartisanship in Congress, is part of a series of open and closed-door appearances he is scheduled to make on Capitol Hill this week. The president's former lawyer, who will start his 3-year prison sentence in early May for violating campaign finance law, will likely face fierce questioning by committee staff and senators during Tuesday's hearing, which could last more than 10 hours. 

"We will be extremely thorough," Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the committee's chairman, told reporters Tuesday evening, adding that he expects to hear the "truth" from Cohen.

Cohen's appearing before the House panel comes after a delay to his initial testimony citing "threats" to his family by Mr. Trump and the president's attorney Rudy Giuliani. Cohen now cooperating with Manhattan prosecutors on alleged financial crimes and questions about the Trump inaugural committee.