Trump Kicks Off North Korea Summit With Cohen on His Mind

Evan Vucci/AP

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President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met face-to-face on Wednesday in Hanoi, Vietnam, to begin their second nuclear summit. The two leaders shook hands before the international press and expressed hope for a productive meeting ahead.
“I think this one hopefully will be equal or greater than the first,” Trump said. “We have made a lot of progress. I think the biggest progress was our relationship is really a good one.”
But the president’s mind also was clearly focused on the imminent testimony of his former lawyer and longtime fixer Michael Cohen, who in a few hours will publicly appear before Congress to allege that Trump is a “racist” and a “con man,” according to a draft of his opening remarks. That statement will also include the damning allegation that Trump knew in advance about WikiLeaks’ plans to release hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential election.
Shortly before meeting with the North Korean leader on Wednesday, Trump attacked Cohen on Twitter:

Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2019

He notably ignored shouted questions about Cohen from reporters in Hanoi. According to a senior White House official, Trump is planning to “stay up overnight in Hanoi” to watch Cohen’s much-anticipated hearing.

Trump eagerly shakes hands with Kim, then is asked by a reporter if he has “any reaction to Michael Cohen and his testimony?”
Trump ignored the question, but was apparently upset by it. Per @JenniferJJacobs, the WH restricted reporters’ access to the next 2 summit events.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019