The dramatic public testimony to Congress on Wednesday morning by President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, could intensify the legal issues facing the president in the criminal and civil investigations that are swirling around him, legal experts said.
Mr. Cohen’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was a remarkable personal and political rebuke to the president from a lawyer who served Mr. Trump with fierce loyalty for more than a decade.
In his prepared testimony, Mr. Cohen — who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and will go to prison for his crimes — blasted the president as a “racist,” a “con-man” and a “cheat.”
But legal experts said that several of the specific allegations by Mr. Cohen in his opening statement could be relevant to questions about whether Mr. Trump participated in a conspiracy to affect the 2016 election, violated campaign finance laws and obstructed justice in an effort to deflect investigations.
The experts cautioned that nothing Mr. Cohen said in his prepared remarks dramatically altered what is known about any legal case against the president. The relevant laws are complex and the president’s lawyers have repeatedly argued that he did not violate them. And perhaps most important, they note, there is a Justice Department policy that asserts that a president may not be indicted while in office.