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Trump: Cohen lied "a lot" during his testimony but not when he said "no collusion"

U.S. & N. Korea end summit without deal

President Trump says his longtime lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen did plenty of lying during his televised testimony Wednesday before a House panel. But, the president says, there was one important exception: Cohen saying he doesn't have any direct evidence that Mr. Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

In a news conference in Vietnam Thursday after his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended prematurely,  the president took one question on Cohen's testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a news conference after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the JW Marriott hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam
President Trump during news conference after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 28, 2019 LEAH MILLIS / REUTERS

During the marathon session, Cohen called Mr. Trump a racist and con man and described actions that might amount to the president breaking campaign finance laws before and after he took office. Cohen also said Mr. Trump lied over and over on the campaign trail when he said he had no business pursuits in Russia. 

Republicans at the session tried to paint Cohen as a habitual liar, repeatedly stressing that Cohen is slated to go to prison in May for lying to Congress among other offenses.

At the news conference, Mr. Trump said Cohen "lied a lot and it was very interesting because he didn't lie about one thing: He said no collusion with the Russian hoax and I wonder why he didn't lie about that like he did about everything else. He lied about so many different things. I was actually impressed that he didn't say, 'Well, I think there was collusion for this reason.' He didn't say that. He said no collusion.

"I was a little impressed by that, quite frankly. He could have gone all out. He went about 95 percent instead of 100 percent. 

"But the fact is there is no collusion; in fact, I call it the witch hunt. This should never happen to another president, this is so bad for our country, so bad."

The president said, "The most important question up there was the one on collusion and he said he saw no collusion so we'll see what happens but it was pretty shameful, I think."

Mr. Trump echoed that sentiment in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on the sidelines of the summit, saying Cohen "defrauded at a high level."

"He's got a lot of problems and you know it was very interesting cause he lied so much," he said. 

Mr. Trump told reporters he "tried to watch as much as I could" despite being in Vietnam for the high-stakes meetings. "I wasn't able to watch too much because I've been a little bit busy," Mr. Trump said before turning his sights to the committee itself, saying, "I think having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this very important summit is really a terrible thing. they could have made it two days later or next week and it would have been even better. They would have had more time. But having it during this very important summit is incredible."

Mr. Trump told Hannity the hearing was "very bad for our country because it really stops you from doing what you're supposed to be doing."

Cohen did say he has "suspicions" about possible Trump-Russia collusion but, "I wouldn't use the word 'colluding.' Was there something odd about the back-and-forth praise with President Putin? Yes, but I'm not really sure I can answer that question in terms of collusion."