Screengrab from https://youtu.be/fcvrKkS9AJc
Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen is, as I write this, engaged in a pre-prison publicity tour in order to gain some leniency (what, after all, shows more contrition than a lawyer divulging confidential information on a former client) and for what I presume to be an inevitable book launch. The event today and perhaps through the end of the week is his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee where Elijah Cummings is trying to build a case for articles of impeachment to vote on during the upcoming presidential race. This is the prologue, if you will, to Cohen’s prepared statement:
Chairman Cummings, Ranking Member Jordan, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today.I have asked this Committee to ensure that my family be protected from Presidential threats, and that the Committee be sensitive to the questions pertaining to ongoing investigations. Thank you for your help and for your understanding.I am here under oath to correct the record, to answer the Committee’s questions truthfully, and to offer the American people what I know about President Trump.
I recognize that some of you may doubt and attack me on my credibility. It is for this reason that I have incorporated into this opening statement documents that are irrefutable, and demonstrate that the information you will hear is accurate and truthful.Never in a million years did I imagine, when I accepted a job in 2007 to work for Donald Trump, that he would one day run for President, launch acampaign on a platform of hate and intolerance, and actually win. I regret the day I said “yes” to Mr. Trump. I regret all the help and support I gave him along the way.I am ashamed of my own failings, and I publicly accepted responsibility for them by pleading guilty in the Southern District of New York.I am ashamed of my weakness and misplaced loyalty — of the things I did for Mr. Trump in an effort to protect and promote him.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 will explain each in a few moments.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.I hope my appearance here today, my guilty plea, and my work with law enforcement agencies are steps along a path of redemption that will restore faith in me and help this country understand our president better.
I have just a few thoughts on this. First and foremost, it is very doubtful that anyone is going to learn anything new about Donald Trump at this media ejaculatorium. Did you think Trump was willing to play fast and loose in his business deals? Did it never occur to you, even once, during the 2016 primary campaign that Trump was running simply to raise his media profile? Were you, at any point, shocked at the thought that Trump might have had one or more mistresses or that he paid them to shut up? Does the idea of Donald Trump using derogatory language toward any race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation leave you gobsmacked? I would say, whether you like him or hate him, that you all answered the questions the same way. None of this is to say this makes his behavior either excusable or worthy of emulation but neither is anything in it so shocking that a Trump voter now would say, “if only I’d known this…”
The second point, related to the first, is that just as Cohen characterized Trump as a con man, a cheat, and a racist, Cohen must wear those same labels. He willingly served Trump and was the guy who actually carried out the nefarious deeds he is now blaming Trump for. He was in the room, and silent, when Trump made the alleged racist statements that Cohen has now, conveniently, recalled. Take, for instance, this bit of his testimony:
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.
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.
One can’t but be struck by a couple of things. Cohen took it upon himself to lie because, he says, that he believed that is what Trump wanted. Why should we think that he’s not saying exactly what Elijah Cummings what the New York attorney general’s office wants? And Trump’s interest in acquiring a property in Russia because he planned on losing the presidential race sort of flies in the face of the collusion narrative.
Relatedly, by his own admission, Cohen is a liar. Or, more accurately, his truth is whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. These are some Cohen tweets before his Fall from Grace.
Was he lying then? Or is he lying now? My guess is that Cohen could pass a polygraph today and he could’ve passed one when he sent those tweets.
Make no mistake about it, Cohen’s testimony is just part of a Democrat party to impeach President Trump, an act they can accomplish without a single GOP vote. Don’t believe for a second those stories you hear of Pelosi and others saying they don’t want impeachment. Of course, they do. Running for re-election with a Senate trial in the near future would be a helluva burden. Even if Pelosi didn’t want to impeach, if she wants to keep control of the House she has no choice. The Democrat base demands it and she will do her best to deliver.
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