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Trump blames Congress for Michael Cohen hearing during Kim summit



President Donald Trump attacked Congress for scheduling the testimony of Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, at the same time as his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

The Trump-Kim summit abruptly ended early and without a deal on Thursday, forcing the leaders to cancel a signing ceremony that was scheduled for later that day.

Trump told reporters that the two leaders couldn’t come to an agreement on the extent of North Korea’s denuclearization and the US’s sanctions relief in exchange for it. He said he is “optimistic” about the relationship.

The breakdown of talks came some 12 hours after Cohen revealed a slew of damning allegations about Trump to Congress, including the fact that Trump had advance knowledge of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign officials, including his son, and several Russian lobbyists offering dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Cohen also accused Trump of engaging in criminal activity while in office.

Read more: The 8 biggest takeaways from Michael Cohen’s blockbuster testimony against Trump

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Trump on Thursday called Cohen’s congressional testimony a “fake hearing” — saying repeatedly that Cohen had lied — and slammed the timing of the hearing.

“Having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this very important summit is a really terrible thing,” Trump told reporters on Thursday.

“They could have made it two days later or next week, an dit would have been even better,” he added, referring implicitly to the House Oversight Committee that scheduled the hearing. “They would have had more time. But having it during this very important summit is sort of incredible.”

The president did not identify any particular effect the clashed between the summit and Cohen’s hearing had caused.

But it was clearly on his mind during the meetings with Kim, prompting an angry tweet in the hours before Cohen spoke. A US reporter also asked Trump to comment on Cohen’s testimony while he was sitting with Kim at a public photo-call.

Read more: Michael Cohen is doing his best to deprive Trump of any glory at his summit with Kim Jong Un

Trump announced that he was holding a summit with Kim during his State of the Union address on February 5, at which point Cohen’s planned testimony had been delayed indefinitely.

It was not until February 20 that it was confirmed that Cohen’s testimony would come while Trump was in Vietnam, by which time the details of the summit were already in place.

Cohen at his testimony on Wednesday.
Scott J. Applewhite/AP

Cohen “lied a lot,” but “only went about 95% instead of 100%”

Trump said that Cohen “lied a lot,” but “only went about 95% instead of 100%” because the Cohen didn’t explicitly accuse Trump of colluding with Russia in the 2016 presidential elections — an accusation Trump has been fielding off for years.

“He [Cohen] lied a lot, but it was very interesting because he didn’t lie about one thing,” Trump said. “He said no collusion with the Russian hoax.”

“And I said, ‘I wonder why he didn’t lie about that too like he did about everything else?'” the president added. “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,” Trump said. “He could have gone all out. He only went about 95% instead of 100%.”

In his testimony Cohen said he believed it was possible that Trump coordinated with the Russians to win the 2016 election, but that he did not have any direct knowledge.

“Mr. Trump is all about winning,” Cohen said. “He will do what is necessary in order to win.”

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