Billy Joel & His Family vs. The Nazis


Two years ago in late August, 2017, Billy Joel walked out on stage at Madison Square Garden, where he is the Artist-in-Residence performing monthly to standing room only crowds. On the left side of his dark suit jacket, a yellow Star of David was pinned prominently over his heart. For the singer/songwriter who has performed more than 100 times at one of the world’s premiere concert arenas, sold more than 150 million records and won virtually every music award, it was a bold and dramatic action, surprising some of his fans, since Joel is known for not being overtly political.


Joel’s jolt came less than ten days after the White Supremacist/Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a young women walking to peacefully protest the anti-Semitic and racial hatred spewed by the “Unite the Right” mob, was deliberately run down and killed by a White Supremacist driving a car into the group of counter-protestors.. To compound the terrible and deadly events in Charlottesville, Donald Trump went on television and refused to place responsibility on the Nazis and White Supremacists, but instead, stated there were “very fine people on both sides.”


Trump’s despicable statement “enraged”, Joel, as he told The Times of Israel.

“No, Nazis aren’t good people, “ Joel said. “My old man, his family got wiped out. They were slaughtered at Auschwitz. Him and his parents were able to get out.”

Joel’s comments about his family’s treatment by the Nazis was an understatement.


In Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography, by Fred Schruers (Crown Archetype Books, NY, NY, 2014), the author details the systematic campaign by the Nazi’s against Joel’s ancestors, simply because they were successful Jews living in Nuremberg, Germany, where Billy Joel’s father (Helmut, later Americanized to Howard) was born.


Joel’s paternal grandfather, Karl Amson Joel, started a business in household linens in 1927, which he called the Karl Joel Linen Goods Company. His business was so profitable that he, his wife and their young son — Billy Joel’s father — were able to move into a wealthy section of Nuremberg. As Karl Joel’s business rose in prominence and the Nazis rose in power, the Nazis fixed their sights on eliminating the Joel’s business and the family operating it.


The Billy Joel biography reports that “in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum database titled ‘Index of Jews whose German Nationality was Annulled by Nazi Regime, 1935–1944, Billy’s grandfather is falsely accused of “monetary and currency offenses” in the records of two separate files.


“After taking part in the making of the documentary The Joel Files,I realized what the film’s director, Beate Thalberg had discovered,” Billy told the book’s writer, Fred Schruers. “ My relatives were hounded out of Germany at an absurd price — a paradigm of the economic casualties during the Nazi takeover.”


But Karl Joel was not simply an “economic casualty: he and his family were specific targets of the Nazis and were used as examples by Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher in the virulently anti-Semitic publication Der Sturmer. Streicher ran front page articles calling Billy’s grandfather a “Yid,” and falsely accused him of underpaying and sexually harassing his workers. The Nazis made up thousands of lies against Germany’s Jews to dehumanize them and turn their political base against them.


Billy Joel’s father was one of four Jews in his Nuremberg classroom, forced to sit apart from their classmates, and forbidden from using the public swimming pool. As circumstances for Jews in Germany became more dire, and Karl Joel was arrested three times while being called the “Jew Joel,” a “bloodsucker,” and “oppressor,” young Helmut (Billy’s father) was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland. Meanwhile, Der Sturmer continued its relentless Twitter-like name calling attacks on Karl Joel, labeling him the “Nuremberg Linen-Jew Joel.”


Karl Joel was ordered by the Nazis to stamp all of his outgoing packages with a “J”, a German plant manager was installed at his company, and suppliers began to boycott him. In June, 1938, a new law was passed requiring all Jewish businesses to be forfeited to Aryan ownership. Karl Joel’s linen business was taken from him at one-fifth its’ actual value.


“My grandparents fled in the night,” Billy Joel told author Schruers, “using fake passports, and escaped across the Swiss border to Zurich. They got in touch with my father at his school and told him they had left Germany for good.”


To escape Europe, Billy Joel’s grandparents and his father “secured places aboard a cruise ship called the Andora Star, for a 1939 passage across the Atlantic to Cuba, where they resided for two years before the United States — strictly limiting the immigration of Jews to protect “the ideal of American homogeneity — allowed them entry. Karl Joel’s brother Leon and his family were not so fortunate. They boarded the SS St.Louis, and after the Voyage of the Damned was refused entry in Havana and at every US Port, Billy Joel’s aunt, uncle and family were send back to Europe, and executed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.


Billy’s father, fluent in German and trained as a concert pianist, was drafted into the US Army in 1943, fighting in General George Patton’s Third Army. When Howard Joel’s battalion liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich in April, 1945, he didn’t know that his relatives had been slaughtered at Auschwitz.


I interviewed Billy Joel in Oyster Bay, Long Island, earlier this month, as part of my work on the official biography of his fellow Long Island singer/songwriter Harry Chapin. I wanted to thank him for wearing the Star of David as a powerful statement of protest to what happened in Charlottesville, and as a strong rebuke of Trump’s depiction of “fine people on both sides.” I converted to Judaism 40 years ago, and married a Jewish girl from Joel’s hometown of Hicksville, Long Island, so his bold public action was particularly poignant for me.


“There are no good Nazis, “ Joel said. “They killed my family members.”

Then he told me how the Nazis, once they confiscated his grandfather’s linen factory, used the machines in the factory to make the black and white striped prison uniforms which they forced Jews to wear, including his family members who were executed at Auschwitz. It was too macabre and twisted to imagine.


“I’ll continue to fight them as long as I can, and to use my voice to speak out against that kind of hate, “ Billy Joel said.


I thought back to his simple, straight-forward and quietly, powerful act of pinning a yellow Star of David above his heart on his dark suit, and thought of the decades of family and global history behind it, and the millions of Jews and non-Jews for whom Billy Joel’s voice rang out clear and true, without having to sing one note on that August night in New York.

The Speech I Want to Hear Joe Biden Deliver to Save the Nation.


My fellow Americans:


Today I am compelled to declare my candidacy for President of the United States because the very soul of our nation, the existence of our Democracy, the continued integrity of the US Constitution, and the Rule of Law are at stake.  I am running for President to protect all of these fundamental pillars of this great country , which are under daily attack, and will be permanently destroyed if Donald Trump is not defeated and sent back to Trump Tower (pause)—New York.


Just yesterday, Trump showed his abject contempt for the American people, the Congress and the Rule of Law by declaring, like a tinpot dictator, that he was ordering all Administration employees to ignore legal subpoenas to testify in an official, legal Congressional proceeding.   In one enormous corrupt act, Trump has committed the single biggest act of Obstruction of Justice in the history of the American Presidency—an action that, by itself, was the substance of the third article of Impeachment against Richard Nixon.


Systematically, Donald Trump has, over his totally lawless and corrupt 825 days in office, has undermined everything this country stands for; everything tens of thousands of courageous American men and women and our Allies around the globe have fought and died for in Wars stretching back over a century; everything my son Beau battled for until he breathed his last breath.  We will not stay silent and let this Democracy be dumped by a fundamentally treacherous man who is an autocrat and a tool of oligarchs to the very marrow of his bone.


Good, selfless public servants like the Firefighters across Pennsylvania, the police officers in New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Oshkosh, and the patriotic men and women of the FBI who protect us from terrorist attacks every single day, are having their life’s work mocked by a man who puts his own self-interest—and the interests of his superrich, corrupt cronies in this country, Russia and Saudi Arabia, over this nation’s interests.


I served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 14 years, chairing the Committee for eight of those years.  If that public service taught me anything—if my tenure as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee taught me anything, if my 36 years in the US Senate and my 8 years as Vice-President taught me anything, it is that this nation is built on the blood and the sacrifice of our fathers, sons, mothers and sisters; it’s built on a firm foundation of fairness, equality and the Rule of Law. Without respect for the law and for each other as human beings, we invite self-dealing, corrupt conduct , meanness and lawlessness– precisely  the hallmarks of the Trump Administration—and Donald Trump.


But you don’t have to just take my word for it, when you have the most chilling case of continuing corruption, cover-up and obstruction of justice laid out by a rock-solid Republican, a Purple Heart Recipient and War Hero like Bob Mueller in 448 pages of riveting evidence.  Mueller’s textbook case of high crimes and misdemeanors of a sitting President, documents the most dangerous threat our Democracy has ever seen both from within—right out of the Oval Office—and from abroad,  in the form of cyberwarfare conducted against our nation and our system of free elections by a hostile nation—a fact confirmed by our 17 Intelligence Agencies, and Special Prosecutor Mueller, but denied over and over again by Mr. Trump, because the truth undermines his legitimacy to hold the high office he occupies.


Putting aside the national security threat detailed in Volume I of the Mueller Report—which is a clear abrogation of Mr.Trump’s duties as Commander in Chief to protect this nation from a foreign enemy—Volume II’s smoking gun evidence of blatant Obstruction of Justice by the President of the United States—over and over again, across 180 pages of detailed documentation—disqualifies Donald Trump from continuing to serve in this nation’s highest office.  Why would any American who cares about the future of this Democracy and its leadership position in the world, want to support someone who, literally every day, commits unlawful acts that merit his removal from office?


His repeated commission of “Corrupt Acts”, as the Special Prosecutor meticulously spells out–and his own Administration members, including his former White House Counsel, testify to–Trump’s congenital lying, bullying his subordinates to lie, witness tampering, dangling pardons, altering testimony, and his repeated failure to uphold his sacred oath of office to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed ,” prove his unfitness to hold the office of President of the United States.  The mere thought of, God forbid, four more years of Donald Trump continuing to use the vast powers of this government for his own corrupt purposes, and to pursue his own lawless agenda, is enough to make any concerned citizen stand up and work hard to rebuild  this country back to when it  benefitted the many, instead of the wealthy, well-connected few.


The culture of corruption permeating this White House—with at least a half-dozen Cabinet members having resigned in disgrace and dozens more Trump Appointees—like the 6 Interior Department Employees this week—and their new Secretary– under the stench of ethics investigations.  That pernicious cloud of corruption is even thicker and more ominous with 12 separate, serious criminal investigations swirling around this President himself, his businesses and his questionable associates.  Such a stinking swamp of corruption stands in stark contrast to the eight years of impeccable integrity of the Obama/Biden Administration, of which I was a proud partner.


I’m running for President to clean up this monstrous mess created by Trump’s terrible 825-day temper tantrum, to save our democracy from a corrupt, spoiled autocrat, to protect our national security from hostile actors on the world stage, and to reinforce, as the Mueller Report clearly stated that “no person in this country is so high that he is above the law.” Our challenge is no less than to save this great nation.


Join me in bringing this country back to its fundamental promises of hope, fairness and equality for all, and its bedrock principles of democracy and the Rule of Law. This is not a campaign, it is a callingto restore human decency, the dignity of work, democracy and fairness to all law-abiding citizens in this country.   I’m calling on you to help save our Democracy, our Constitution and our common decency.



Jabba, Jabba Barr



Jabba, Jabba Barr

Swallows justice near and far,

Iran/Contra, Russia/Trump,

Hiding evidence in his rump.

Elliott Abrams, Cap the Wein,

Hidden in his large behind.


Jabba, Jabba Barr

Concocts cover-ups in a jar.

Pinch of law, avuncular acts,

Watch how Jabba clouds the facts.

Election to Russia, Arms to Iran

Poof! Goes proof if Jabba’s your man.


Jabba, Jabba Barr

Swallows justice near and far,

Gobbles truth like it’s a cruller,

Squats on Lawmen like Bob Mueller.

Sees obstruction in plane sight—

Sits on it to block the light.


Jabba, Jabba Barr

Swallows justice near and far.

Iran/Contra, Russia/Trump,

Hiding evidence in his rump.





Barr’s Blatant Obstruction



US Attorney General’s William Barr’s summary of Robert Mueller’s Report was not written and released on March 24, 2019, as the White House wants us to believe. It was argued, written and pre-tested on June 8, 2018, in an unsolicited application for the job of US Attorney General that “Bill” Barr wrote to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant AG Steve Engel, but clearly meant for the eyes of “Individual One,” Donald Trump.

If you carefully read Barr’s bombastic love-letter to Trump last June — headlined “Mueller’s “Obstruction” Theory” (“obstruction” in quotes, put there by Barr), Barr has already prejudged obstruction of justice and is very clear where he will come down on any “obstruction” question:

Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction. Apart from whether Mueller has a strong enough factual basis for doing so, Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived.” (Bill Barr job-application letter to Rod Rosenstein & Steve Engle, June 8, 2018)

Before the ink was barely dry on the Mueller Report — the result of a 22-month investigation — Barr gave his opinion in a little more than 22 hours, that Mueller, who clearly did not “exonerate” Trump from “obstruction” but left the question open, and, according to the deeply-conflicted Barr, in the hands of Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General, William Barr. Barr’s bastardization of Mueller’s careful examination of the facts on obstruction became a bald power grab on behalf of the President who hired the Attorney General: “ The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.”

But Barr had already determined in June, 2018, that a President could not be found guilty of “obstruction:

I know you ( Rosenstein, Engel & Trump ) will agree that, if a DOJ investigation is going to take down a democratically-elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime — not a debatable one….and not to indulge the fancies of overly-zealous prosecutors.”

Hiding behind the bendable Rod Rosenstein, Barr’s sinister and self-serving summary of Mueller’s Report states that : “Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that…the Report identifies no actions that, in our judgement, constitute obstructive conduct.” It was the same thing Barr wrote nine months earlier in his job application to be Trump’s Attorney General, and it should have disqualified him from rendering any judgement on the subject of “obstruction.”

Yet, despite Barr’s barely concealed and contemptible attempt to use Rod Rosenstein as a human shield to veil his previously expressed opinion on “obstruction” in his June 8, 2018, letter, the original language of Barr’s bias is there for every member of Congress and every American citizen to see: “ Mueller’s core premise — that the President acts “corruptly” if he attempts to influence a proceeding in which his own conduct is being scrutinized — is untenable.” (Bob Barr’s AG job application letter, June 8, 2018).

Barr raised the evidentiary bar on the issue of “obstruction” to an unattainable height, despite Mueller clearly stating that “ while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

But, Bill Barr did. First, he pre-emptively exonerated Trump on June 8, 2018, in his application letter to Trump for the job of Attorney General. Then, Barr did it again in his shady summary of Robert Mueller’s meticulously compiled report which included the issuing of 2800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants and the interviewing of 500 witnesses — and resulted in 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas and five prison sentences. Barr exonerated Trump and discarded all of Mueller’s hard work before the Special Counsel’s task was complete and before he even read Mueller’s final report.

The fix was in when Barr stated his overwhelming opposition to any “obstruction” charges, a postion which prompted Trump to nominate him for Attorney General. Barr was able to write his fast, furious and suspicious crib-sheet of the Mueller Report because he had already written it last June, when he applied for the job of Attorney General. All he did was change the names, the dates, and his own title.

Now, it’s time for Congress to investigate the process involved in assembling and delivering the Mueller Report, the evidence contained in the Report itself, and the facts behind Bill Barr’s jettisoning of justice in order to please the man who hired him, and sabotage a crucial counter-intelligence investigation into a foreign power’s illegal interference in a US Presidential election.

In fact, it is Barr himself — in his obsequious July 8, 2018, job application to be the Trump’s new AG — who spelled out the necessity for Congress to do its’ job immediately, and for each citizen to do ours between now and 2020:

Thus, under the Framers’ plan, the determination whether the President is making decisions based on “improper” motives or whether he is “faithfully” discharging his responsibilities, is left to the the People, through the election process, and the Congress, through the Impeachment Process.”

Barr did the job he groveled for, and was hired to roll-over for, on cue. Congress, and each of us, must be relentless in doing ours.

To Beto, or Not to Beto


To Beto, or not to Beto, seems to be the question among all of us who want to support the best candidate, or team of candidates, to beat Trump, flip the US Senate to the Democrats, and put humanity and the environment back to the top of this country’s agenda.


My son, Matt Villano and I met Beto last May at a fundraiser in Santa Rosa, California, when he was running against ‘Lyin Ted Cruz to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. We wanted to meet O’Rourke because we admired his courage to buck the odds, and take on such a despicable symbol of hypocrisy in a heavily “Red” state. We weren’t disappointed.


Much like he’s doing now in Iowa, Beto came to a small local restaurant and addressed a few dozen of us about why he was running for the US Senate. He was smart, personable, and well-informed on the issues, and when I asked him what he was going to do about the “cages for children” which the Trump Administration constructed on the Texas/Mexico border, near O’Rourke’s Congressional District, he didn’t shy away from giving an impassioned, detailed and impressive answer. As an El Paso native and Representative, he knew and cared about the issue of immigration more than any other public official of our time.


Beto’s charisma and passion for those without the privilege he knew he was fortunate to have, reminded me of Robert F. Kennedy. I told Robert Francis O’Rourke that I had campaigned for Bobby Kennedy in 1964, when he was running for the US Senate from NY against an entrenched GOP Senator when I was 15 years old. Now, more than 50 years later, in the presence of my 43-year old son, I felt we were experiencing another of those unique presences in American political life. Having worked with Mario Cuomo for eight years, I knew them when I saw them.


But, it was easy to be for Beto when he ran against the creepy Cruz. It was the quintessential battle of good vs. evil, Don Quixote vs. windmills, and a young, caring and charismatic public official struggling uphill, to unseat a shrivel-souled, cynical, hollowed-out man. Beto for President is not such an easy, nor binary, choice — not just yet. We have many miles to go before we vote.


Like many other sensible humans who care about the future of our world, I worked hard in 2016 to defeat Donald Trump, doing voter protection in North Carolina, only to discover that the Clinton campaign in that key state, like the candidate, was a catastrophe, as it was in swing states around the country. Like many other good people, I immediately supported the Resistance to Trump, marching and backing court challenges to his every illegal, inhumane act. And, like other citizen activists, I donated generously of both my money and time to Congressional campaigns around the country to flip the House of Representatives in 2018. We succeeded, and I will again do all I can to defeat Trump in 2020, keep the House Democratic and flip control of the US Senate.


How do we best achieve that? Who is the best Democrat — and the best team of people — to accomplish those imperatives? If we don’t bust up the Trump Criminal Enterprise, knock out the GOP from the White House and the US Senate, the future of this democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in this country is tenuous, at best, and the future of this planet, environmentally, is lost. That would mean a life of pure hell for my three granddaughters, ages 10, 7 and 3, and I will not sit silently by and allow that to happen.


I’ve given early money to the Presidential campaigns of Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, to the US Senate Campaign of Mark Kelly in Arizona, and the yet-to-be-announced Senate campaign of Amy McGrath of Kentucky against Mitch McConnell. I knew Beto would break all fund-raising records within the first 24-hours of announcing his candidacy for President, so, despite receiving 6 email appeals for money from his team on that first day — and three text messages — I resisted giving to Beto’s campaign just yet. I want to allow a few more flowers to bloom.


The truth is, like many Democrats and Independents, I’m not sure who the strongest candidate would be yet, to beat Trump and the GOP. Yes, Biden would be strong, but not without a younger female running mate, like Amy Klobuchar, or preferably a person of color who would electrify the electorate, like Stacey Abrams, or, perhaps, Kamala Harris or Cory Booker.


As a 70-year old white male, Biden’s age (76) cuts a couple of ways with me: I love the fact that he, like Bernie (78) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (85), prove that age is irrelevant to intellect and commitment to do good. But on the campaign trail, I just cannot see Biden bounding up on top of bars — Beto-like — in small pubs in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan & Pennsylvania — and I think it will take that kind of unrelenting energy to win. Vigor can’t be faked.


I love the depth and breadth of the Democratic field of candidates — from the bright, 37 year old Pete “Buttkicker” (as I’ve come to calling the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana), to 68-year old Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, who has made climate change the central issue of his campaign. No one is more articulate on financial, consumer and banking issues than Elizabeth Warren, nor is any other candidate as well-positioned geographically and politically as Amy Klobuchar, a star on the Senate Judiciary Committee. I want Julian Castro to be less formal than he is, but the thought of Florida’s Cubans voting for a President named Castro is incomprehensible. His twin-brother has a far stronger chance to flip a US Senate seat in Texas, especially with Beto — who has already demonstrated powerful coattails in his home state — at the top of the Democratic national ticket.


As someone who grew up in an ethnic, working-class family and whose older brothers detested the privilege of the Kennedys, I was affronted by Beto’s beautiful Vanity Fair all-too posed cover photo by Annie Leibovitz, and by O’Rourke’s Obama-like arrogance that he was “born to be in it.” Please spare us the hubris, especially after being bathed in maniacally false pride by Trump for three years. I’m not about to sarcastically christen him as the “magical man-boy”, as the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd did, but Beto, more than anyone in the Democratic field, has to be meticulously careful to avoid becoming the kind of celebrity candidate that working-families grow to resent, and vote against.


Yet, as a writer and media professional who worked with the eloquent Mario Cuomo, I recognize the power and great risk of becoming a media darling, and the potency and danger of skateboarding atop social media, especially when confronting a sick, symbiotic relationship between television, Twitter, and a twisted antagonist, like Trump.


Beto’s test, far bigger than the one he faced in Texas, will be to find just the right balance of riding the tiger of media and popular adoration without ending up inside, and taming it to come to this country’s rescue. If he can do that, O’Rourke will not only have earned the Democratic nomination, but the Presidency as well.

Michael D. Cohen’s Testimony To Congress, February 27, 2019: Evidence of Criminal Acts by Trump, While President

(In the most damning Congressional Testimony since former White House Attorney John Dean, testified under oath 45 years ago that Richard Nixon committed crimes in the White House, former Trump Lawyer, Confidant and Fixer Michael D. Cohen, provided testimony under oath to Congress on February 27, 2019, and gave direct evidence of crimes committed by President Donald Trump, in office. The testimony, which I have excerpted here for brevity, was provided to the New York Times the night before Cohen’s Congressional Testimony.)



I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump’s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience.


I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.


He is a racist.

He is a conman.

He is a cheat.


He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.


I am providing the Committee today with several documents. These include:

  • A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account – after he became president – to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign;


  • Copies of financial statements for 2011 – 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank;



  • A copy of an article with Mr. Trump’s handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself – he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs; and


  • Copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.

Before going further, I want to apologize to each of you and to Congress as a whole.


The last time I appeared before Congress, I came to protect Mr. Trump. Today, I’m here to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.


I lied to Congress about when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow Tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January 2016. That was false – our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.


Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates.


In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me “there’s no business in Russia,” and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie. (Editor’s Note:  Just like Trump lies repeatedly by repeating “there’s no collusion.”)


There were at least a half-dozen times between the Iowa Caucus in January 2016 and the end of June when he would ask me “How’s it going in Russia?” – referring to the Moscow Tower project.


You need to know that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it.


To be clear: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it.


He lied about it because he never expected to win the election.


He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project.


And so I lied about it, too – because Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie.


And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress.



I have always tried to live a life of loyalty, friendship, generosity, and compassion – qualities my parents ingrained in my siblings and me since childhood.


My father survived the Holocaust thanks to the compassion and selfless acts of others. He was helped by many who put themselves in harm’s way to do what they knew was right.


That is why my first instinct has always been to help those in need. Mom and Dad…I am sorry that I let you down.


Last fall, I pled guilty in federal court to felonies for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in coordination with Individual #1.


For the record: Individual #1 is President Donald J. Trump.


It is painful to admit that I was motivated by ambition at times. It is even more painful to admit that many times I ignored my conscience and acted loyal to a man when I should not have. Sitting here today, it seems unbelievable that I was so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.

For that reason, I have come here to apologize to my family, to the government, and to the American people.



Accordingly, let me now tell you about Mr. Trump.


I got to know him very well, working very closely with him for more than 10 years, as his Executive Vice President and Special Counsel and then personal attorney when he became President.


I wound up touting the Trump narrative for over a decade. That was my job. Always stay on message. Always defend. It monopolized my life. At first, I worked mostly on real estate developments and other business transactions. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump brought me into his personal life and private dealings. Over time, I saw his true character revealed.


Mr. Trump is an enigma. He is complicated, as am I. He has both good and bad, as do we all. But the bad far outweighs the good, and since taking office, he has become the worst version of himself. He is capable of behaving kindly, but he is not kind. He is capable of committing acts of generosity, but he is not generous. He is capable of being loyal, but he is fundamentally disloyal.


Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great.


He had no desire or intention to lead this nation – only to market himself and to build his wealth and power.


Mr. Trump would often say, this campaign was going to be the “greatest infomercial in political history.”


He never expected to win the primary. He never expected to win the general election. The campaign – for him – was always a marketing opportunity.



A lot of people have asked me about whether Mr. Trump knew about the release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of time. The answer is yes.


As I earlier stated, Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of emails.


In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr. Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump put Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.


Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”


Mr. Trump is a racist.


The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.”


In private, he is even worse.

He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a “shithole.” This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.


While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.

And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.



Mr. Trump is a cheat.


As previously stated, I’m giving the Committee today three years of President Trump’s financial statements, from 2011-2013, which he gave to Deutsche Bank to inquire about a loan to buy the Buffalo Bills and to Forbes. These are Exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c to my testimony.

It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.


I am sharing with you two newspaper articles, side by side, that are examples of Mr. Trump inflating and deflating his assets, as I said, to suit his financial interests. These are Exhibit 2 to my testimony.


As I noted, I’m giving the Committee today an article he wrote on, and sent me, that reported on an auction of a portrait of Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 3A to my testimony.


Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event. The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself. Please see Exhibit 3B to my testimony.


And it should come as no surprise that one of my more common responsibilities was that Mr. Trump directed me to call business owners, many of whom were small businesses, that were owed money for their services and told them no payment or a reducedpayment would be coming. When I advised Mr. Trump of my success, he actually reveled in it.



Mr. Trump is a conman.


He asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair, and to lie to his wife about it,which I did. Lying to the First Lady is one of my biggest regrets. She is a kind, good person. I respect her greatly – and she did not deserve that.


I am giving the Committee today a copy of the $130,000 wire transfer from me to Ms. Clifford’s attorney during the closing days of the presidential campaign that was demanded by Ms. Clifford to maintain her silence about her affair with Mr. Trump. This is Exhibit 4 to my testimony.


Mr. Trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a Home Equity Line of Credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his campaign.I did that, too – without bothering to consider whether that was improper, much less whether it was the right thing to do or how it would impact me, my family,or the public.


I am going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.


As Exhibit 5 to my testimony shows, I am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that President Trump personally signed from his personal bank account on August 1, 2017 – when he was President of the United States – pursuant to the cover-up, which was the basis of my guilty plea, to reimburse me – the word used by Mr. Trump’s TV lawyer — for the illegal hush money I paid on his behalf.


This $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year – while he was President.


The President of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. You can find the details of that scheme, directed by Mr. Trump, in the pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.



When I say conman, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores.


As I mentioned, I’m giving the Committee today copies of a letter I sent at Mr. Trump’s direction threatening these schools with civil and criminal actions if Mr. Trump’s grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without his permission. These are Exhibit 6.


The irony wasn’t lost on me at the time that Mr. Trump in 2011 had strongly criticized President Obama for not releasing his grades. As you can see in Exhibit 7, Mr. Trump declared “Let him show his records” after calling President Obama “a terrible student.”


The sad fact is that I never heard Mr. Trump say anything in private that led me to believe he loved our nation or wanted to make it better.


In fact, he did the opposite.


When telling me in 2008 that he was cutting employees’ salaries in half – including mine – he showed me what he claimed was a $10 million IRS tax refund, and he said that he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving “someone like him” that much money back.


During the campaign, Mr. Trump said he did not consider Vietnam Veteran, and Prisoner of War, Senator John McCain to be “a hero” because he likes people who weren’t captured. At the same time, Mr. Trump tasked me to handle the negative press surrounding his medical deferment from the Vietnam draft.


Mr. Trump claimed it was because of a bone spur, but when I asked for medical records, he gave me none and said there was no surgery.


He told me not to answer the specific questions by reporters but rather offer simply the fact that he received a medical deferment.


He finished the conversation with the following comment. “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”


I find it ironic, President Trump, that you are in Vietnam right now.

Over the past year or so, I have done some real soul searching. I see now that my ambition and the intoxication of Trump power had much to do with the bad decisions I made.


To you, Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, the other members of this Committee, and the other members of the House and Senate, I am sorry for my lies and for lying to Congress.


To our nation, I am sorry for actively working to hide from you the truth about Mr. Trump when you needed it most.



I am going to prison and have shattered the safety and security that I tried so hard to provide for my family.


My testimony certainly does not diminish the pain I caused my family and friends – nothing can do that. And, by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal, scurrilous attacks by the President and his lawyer – trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel.


Mr. Trump called me a “rat” for choosing to tell the truth – much like a mobster would do when one of his men decides to cooperate with the government.


As Exhibit 8 shows, I have provided the Committee with copies of Tweets that Mr. Trump posted, attacking me and my family – only someone burying his head in the sand would not recognize them for what they are: encouragement to someone to do harm to me and my family.


I never imagined that he would engage in vicious, false attacks on my family – and unleash his TV-lawyer to do the same. I hope this committee and all members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will make it clear: As a nation, we should not tolerate attempts to intimidate witnesses before Congress and attacks on family are out of bounds and not acceptable.