Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, warned members of Congress Wednesday that there may be no peaceful transfer of power if the president loses the 2020 election.
Cohen said near the end of the daylong hearing that his concern that Trump wouldn't cede power peacefully was one of the reasons he decided to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
"Indeed, given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today," Cohen said.
Cohen worked as Trump's personal attorney and "fixer" for 10 years, but offered a blistering account of his work with the president Wednesday after pleading guilty in November to lying to Congress about when discussions over the Trump Tower Moscow deal had ended.
Cohen has since cooperated with investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
His comments regarding Trump and the transition of power is the first time someone who worked closely with the president has publicly cast doubt on whether Trump, facing an election loss, would peacefully hand over the power of the presidency to an opponent.
In the last weeks of the 2016 campaign, there were signs that then-candidate Trump would cast doubt on the results of the presidential election.
As the election neared and polls showed Trump facing a possible defeat, he ramped up claims of voter fraud and election rigging, telling his supporters that a loss could only be the result of fraud.
The White House did not respond to questions regarding Cohen's claim Trump would not step down from the presidency peacefully, but referred BuzzFeed News to a previous statement released by press secretary Sarah Sanders, where she pointed out Cohen had been convicted for lying to Congress.
"It's laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies," Sanders said.
Here is Cohen's closing statement to the committee in full:
First, I want to thank you, chairman, because I appreciate the opportunity to share some final thoughts.
I have acknowledged I have made my own mistakes and I have owned up to them publicly and under oath, but silence and complicity in the face of the daily destruction of our basic and civility to one another will not be one of them.
I did things and I acted improperly, at times at Mr. Trump's behest. I blindly followed his demands. My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything, my family's happiness, friendships, my law license, my company, my livelihood, my honer, my reputation, and soon my freedom. And I will not sit back, say nothing, and allow him to do the same to the country.
Indeed, given my experience working for Mr. Trump I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power, and this is why I agreed to appear before you today.
In closing, I'd like to say directly to the president: We honor our veterans even in the rain, you tell the truth even when it doesn't aggrandize you, you respect the law and incredible law enforcement agents, you don't villianize them, you don't disparage generals, gold star families, prisoners of war and other heroes who had the courage to fight for this country.
You don't attack the media and those who question what you don't like or what you don't want them to say, and you take responsibility for your own dirty deeds. You don't use your power of your bully pulpit to destroy the credibility of those who speak out against you. You don't separate families from one another or demonize those looking to America for a better life. You don't vilify people based on the god they pray to and you don't cuddle up to our adversaries at the expense of our allies.
Finally, you don't shut down the government before Christmas and New Year's just to simply appease your base. This behavior is churlish, it denigrates the office of the president and it's simply un-American. And it's not you.
So to those who support the president and his rhetoric as I once did, I pray the country doesn't make the same mistakes that I have made or pay the heavy price that my family and I are paying, and I thank you very much for this additional time, Mr. Chairman.