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Trump is “impressed” that Cohen said “no collusion.” But Cohen didn’t say that.

In Vietnam, the president responds to his former lawyer’s testimony by mischaracterizing it.

U.S. President Trump And North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un Meet In Hanoi Tuan Mark/Getty Images

During his summit-ending news conference in Vietnam on Thursday morning, President Donald Trump was asked to respond to his longtime former lawyer and fixer accusing him of crimes during his congressional testimony on Wednesday related to hush payments to women before the 2016 election.

“Your former lawyer Michael Cohen, who worked for you for 10 years, his office right next to yours, right by yours at Trump Tower — he called you a liar, a con man, a racist,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl said. “What’s your response to Michael Cohen?”

Trump responded by mischaracterizing Cohen’s testimony. Here’s the full text of what he said:

Well, it’s incorrect, and you know, it’s very interesting because I tried to watch as much as I could. I wasn’t able to watch too much because I’ve been a little bit busy. But I think having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this important summit is really a terrible thing. They could’ve made it two days later or next week and it would’ve been even better. They would’ve had more time. But having it during this very important summit is sort of incredible.

And he lied a lot, but it was very interesting because he didn’t lie about one thing. He said, “No collusion with the Russia hoax.” And I said, I wonder why he didn’t just lie about that too, like he did about everything else. I mean, he lied about so many different things. And I was actually impressed that he didn’t say, “Well, I think there was collusion for this reason or that.” He didn’t say that, he said, “No collusion,” and I was a little impressed by that, frankly. He could’ve gone all out. He only went about 95 percent instead of 100 percent.

But the fact is there is no collusion and I call it the witch hunt. This should never happen to another president. This is so bad for our country. So bad. You look at this whole hoax. I call it the “Russian witch hunt” — I now add the word “hoax.” It’s a very, very bad thing for our country. But I was impressed with the fact that he, ah, because 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.

But Cohen did not say there was “no collusion.” What he said was that he does not “know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia,” but “I have my suspicions.”

During his opening statement, Cohen recalled an incident shortly before the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, in which Trump Jr. walked into his father’s office and told him, “The meeting is all set.”

“What struck me as I look back and thought about the exchange between Don Jr. and his father was ... that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of significance alone, and certainly without checking with his father,” Cohen said. “I also knew that nothing went on in Trumpworld, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval. So I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representatives when he walked behind his dad’s desk that day, and that Mr. Trump knew that was the meeting Don Jr. was talking about.”

Cohen also said he overheard a call Trump had with Roger Stone on speakerphone that suggested Trump knew WikiLeaks was in possession of emails hacked from the Clinton 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,” Cohen said. “Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with [WikiLeaks founder] 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,’” Cohen added.

Perhaps even more significantly, during questioning by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Cohen granted it’s possible the whole Trump family was “conflicted or compromised with a foreign adversary in the months before the [2016] election” because Cohen had repeatedly briefed them about his efforts to strike a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the presidential campaign.

The question from Karl was the only one Trump answered about Cohen’s testimony during his news conference on Thursday. As he walked away from the podium, Trump ignored Jim Acosta’s shouted question of, “Michael Cohen said you committed a crime, sir. Can you respond to that?”


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