Michael Cohen told the House Oversight Committee Wednesday that then-Trump campaign press secretary Hope Hicks called him in October 2016 and told him to “start making phone calls” to do damage control after tape leaked of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.
The “Access Hollywood” tape — in which Trump bragged to Billy Bush “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything” — was published by The Washington Post on Oct. 7, 2016.
Cohen told the committee Wednesday that he was in London when the tape was made public, “and I received a phone call during the dinner from Hope Hicks, stating that she had just spoken to Mr. Trump and we need you to start making phone calls to the various different news outlets that you have relationships with.”
Hicks continued, per Cohen: “And we need to spin this, and what we want to do is just to claim that this was men locker room talk.”
Cohen: After the "Access Hollywood" tape was published, Hope Hicks told me "we need to spin this, and what we want to do is just to claim that this was men locker room talk.” pic.twitter.com/gv6BzGcXYD
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 27, 2019
“Yes” the concern was about the election in particular, Cohen said. “Then, couple that with Karen McDougal, which then came out around the same time and then on top of that, the Stormy Daniels matter.”
The hush money payments Cohen made and coordinated, respectively, to ensure those women’s silence formed the basis of two of the eight counts to which he pleaded guilty nearly two years later, in August 2018.