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President Trump 'impressed' that Cohen said he saw no collusion over Russia scandal

Michael Cohen said that he had no "direct evidence" that Mr Trump or his aides had colluded with Russia to get him elected. Picture by J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Mary Clare Jalonick, Eric Tucker and Michael R Sisak, Associated Press

President Donald Trump says he was a "little impressed" that his former personal lawyer told Congress there was "no collusion" between his presidential campaign and Russia.

Michael Cohen told US politicians on Wednesday that he had no "direct evidence" that Mr Trump or his aides had colluded with Russia to get him elected.

The issue is the main focus of a two-year investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Cohen has turned on President Trump and pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.

Mr Trump told reporters in Vietnam that he tried to watch as much of Cohen's marathon congressional hearing as he could.

He condemned the hearing as "fake", and said it was a "terrible thing" for Democrats to hold it during his summit.

At the hearing, Cohen cast Mr Trump as a racist and a con man who used his inner circle to cover up politically damaging allegations about sex and who lied throughout the 2016 election campaign about his business interests in Russia.

Cohen is expected to continue testifying about his work with the US president and knowledge of the Trump business empire when he appears on Thursday before the House intelligence committee, behind closed doors.

Cohen said that Mr Trump had advance knowledge and embraced the news that emails damaging to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton would be released during the campaign.

But he also said he had no "direct evidence" that Mr Trump or his aides colluded with Russia to get him elected.

Cohen, shaking off criticism from Republicans who want to portray him as a liar, became the first Trump insider to pull back the curtain on a version of the inner workings of the president's political and business operations.

He likened Mr Trump to a "mobster" who demanded blind loyalty from underlings and expected them to lie on his behalf to conceal information and protect him – even if it meant breaking the law.

"I am not protecting Mr Trump anymore," Cohen declared.

"My loyalty to Mr Trump has cost me everything: my family's happiness, friendships, my law licence, my company, my livelihood, my honour, my reputation and soon my freedom," Cohen said.

"I will not sit back, say nothing and allow him to do the same to the country."

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