Michael Cohen is a Jewish lawyer whose father escaped the WWII Holocaust. Cohen was Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer” for the past ten years until about a year ago. Then Cohen came under FBE investigation. The FBI raided, his house, etc., and took possession of much evidence of documents, computer files, etc. Cohen soon flipped on now President Donald Trump. Cohen has since been convicted by a court of law and sentenced to three years in prison. He is scheduled to be imprisoned in May.
In a historic day today in our USA democracy, Michael Cohen voluntarily testified to the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee chaired by Elijah Cummings which consists of about 45 members of the House. Cohen was the sole person being questioned for about 7.5 hours today. Cohen had testified yesterday for nine hours privately before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Tomorrow, he testifies for about the same time period before the House Intelligence Committee.
Elijah Cummings (African-American) of Maryland is a lawyer and an active member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore. Cummings invited Jewish man Michael Cohen to read his prepared remarks. They had been given to committee members in the late night before. I’m going to recall some of the questioning and Cohen’s answers, but I won’t be able to recall in each case who was doing the questioning.
Lanny Davis is one of Michael Cohen’s lawyers. Mr. Davis was sitting immediately behind Mr. Cohen and slightly to his right so that whenever the television cameras were on Cohen, Davis could usually be seen. It is interesting to me that during this entire proceeding, Cohen almost never turned back to Davis to ask for his advice. And when he did, it seemed to be of an inconsequential matter.
I thought that spoke volumes about Cohen’s credibility regarding his testimony. The reason is that the Republican committee members who questioned Cohen nearly always had one purpose in mind–to make Cohen appear as a non-credible witness due to his having lied in the past and done other wrongdoing. But Mr. Cohen has admitted this to the FBI, a court of law, and profusely and repeatedly today before the committee. Some of the Republicans therefore accused the committee, and thus chairman Cummings of conducting a travesty for even listening to Cohen. But one Democratic member pointed out that law enforcement bodies uncovering wrongdoing in our country so often must examine wrongdoers with questioning.
The main thing that Cohen read from early in his prepared statement was that he accused Donald Trump most startlingly of being “a racist, a conman, and a cheat.” He then provided statements to support these allegations, both in these prepared remarks and during his testimony. He said he first became enamored with Donald Trump and fell into wrongdoing on his behalf as his attorney, but that he was no longer doing that. He spoke of now trying to become a better person and used the word “redemption.”
Cohen spoke of one meeting in the oval office of President Trump which consisted only of them and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer the past two-three years. Sekulow is an active Messianic Jew. This 2017 meeting was early in Trump’s presidency. Trump had called it to talk to Cohen about his upcoming first appearance to testify before Congress about Trump Moscow. That was a hotel Trump had proposed many years earlier. Cohen said it was to be the tallest (or largest) building in Europe. Trump had been saying during the presidential campaign and as president that he never had in business dealings with Russia. This was an important question since our U.S. intelligence had concluded during the summer of 2016 that Russians had been conducting nefarious activities, most of them on the internet, of interfering with our presidential election in order to try to get Donald Trump elected president. And Trump had been saying it wasn’t so. Also, an FBI investigation was being conducted about it.
In truth, Cohen said in his testimony today that he had indeed been conducting negotiations on behalf of Trump, both during the presidential campaign and while Trump was president, with Russians about this Trump Moscow project. Cohen said if it happened, Trump would make many millions of dollars from it. Cohen later admitted that he was still conducting these negotiations by June, 2016.
Cohen said that during this meeting, Trump did not tell him specifically to lie to Congress. He said that’s not Trump’s style. He said he told him we didn’t have negotiations with Russians about Trump Moscow. Cohen called this Trump “code.” That is, he merely tells people what is so, and that means they are to say that. So, Cohen said that is why he lied to Congress, saying that he had discontinued these negotiations back in January, 2017, when Trump was inaugurated as president when in fact he had been doing so into June that year at Trump’s behest. And Cohen said President Trump talked to him about that progress on three different occasions during those six months, thus during the time Trump was president. Trump will be challenged for law breaking about this.
Cohen said a couple of things that I thought were humorous during his grilling by Republican members of the committee. Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio is a lawyer and the next ranking member of the Oversight Committee. He appears to me as a high strung, contentious fellow. He asked Cohen if Lanny Davis, sitting right there, was his attorney. Cohen answered yes. Jordan then asked if Cohen was paying him for his services. Cohen answered no, but he added that he may get paid three years later or more when Cohen gets out of prison. Jordan then said, “I’ve never seen lawyer who would wait to get paid three years later.” Cohen then looked at Davis and shot back quickly to Jordan, “I guess he thinks this is important.”
On another occasion, one of the Republican committee members was pointing out Cohen’s past lying. He then asked Cohen, “how would you characterize yourself?” Cohen quickly answered with a serious look on his face, “a fool.”
I thought some of the Republican members who questioned Cohen made themselves look pretty bad. Some of them raised their voices. Their whole line of questioning was to discredit Cohen as a liar. Yet Cohen was at all times in control of himself. Not once did he ever erupt or raise his voice. Yet these Republicans questioning him would often ask him a question, and while he was answering it they would interrupt him and cut him off even though he was never being to longwinded in his answer.
Toward the end of the hearing, Cohen made a remark that was both insightful and stunning. He said that during this entire proceeding, the entire questioning of him by Republican committee members had not included any questions about alleged Trump wrongdoing. Cohen was quite right about this, and this was acknowledged on TV right after the hearing by TV political analysts.
The alleged payments by Cohen for Trump to porn star Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougall for supposed affairs with Trump comes especially under the jurisdiction of this Oversight Committee. So, Democratic committee members questioned Cohen a lot about this. Both affairs allegedly occurred in 2006 and also into 2007 with McDougall. Both women were going to go public with their stories. Only a few days before the November presidential election, Cohen says he paid Daniels $130,000 hush money, and Trump friend and National Enquirer editor David Peck paid McDougall $125,000. Cohen claimed both were at the behest of Trump.
I believe Donald Trump most certainly would not have been elected president of the USA if those two women would have gone to the media and told about their affairs with Donald Trump, only days before the election. There is no way the American public would have put up with that. Somehow, Trump had survived the Access Hollywood tape aired on TV earlier, in which he bragged about forcibly groping women against their will, which he and Melania later downplayed as “locker room talk.” So, during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, he was reimbursing his fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen for months earlier paying a porn star and another woman hush money in what’s called “catch and kill” NDA agreements not to go public with this information. That will be contested as violation of campaign finance laws, and the maximum penalty is five years in prison.
Cohen accused Trump of frequently threatening people and having Cohen carry it out. A female, Democratic member of the committee asked Cohen how often he did that at the Mr. Trump’s request. She asked, “ten times?” Cohen answered, “more.” She then asked, “twenty times?” She kept going up, up, and up, with Cohen always answering “more.” She finally asked, “500 times?” Cohen answered, “probably more.”
Cohen was asked if he knew if Trump had colluded with Russians to win the election. Cohen said he didn’t “have any direct evidence of it,” but he “suspicioned it.” He said he was in the oval office with President Trump one day when Roger Stone phoned the president. Cohen said Trump put Stone’s call on the speaker phone, so that Cohen also could easily hear Stone speak. Cohen said Stone then said he had spoken to Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, who said he had a bunch of emails stolen from Hilary Clinton, whom Trump was going against in the election. And Stone said Assange was about to released them to the media. Cohen said Trump responded, “Good, let me know.”
Cohen said Trump threatens people and requires them to sign DNA’s to shut them up. He said Mr. Trump did this with his education. He required his grade school, his high school, and his college to sign DNAs that they would never release his grades. As I’ve said before, “Trump Is Dumber than a Stick.”
Cohen was asked about an alleged video tape in which Mr. Trump hit his present wife and now First Lady, Melania, a former model from Eastern Europe. Cohen said he researched that on behalf of Mr. Trump, and Cohen said he does not believe it exists. Cohen then paid tribute to Melania by saying that she is a “kind and good person.” I thought that was interesting. You have to ask yourself how she married this guy. But Cohen admitted that Donald Trump can be mesmerizing. Cohen said Mr. Trump can be good, and he can be very bad. But he said he does not believe The Donald would ever hit Melania.
Trump sometimes projects an image of himself in which he seems to condone violence if not advocate it. He stirred up his base by approving of some guy body slamming another guy. And there are other stories.
Cohen says he and Trump once talked about Trump’s medical deferment in which he avoided the military draft during the Vietnam War. I was in both the Army and Air Force during that time for 7.5 years–six months active and the rest reserves. During the latter, I could have been called up at any time. Trump told Cohen that he did not have a copy of his medical deferment. Trump has always claimed that he had the deferment due a bone spur. But when once asked by a reporter which heel he had it one, he said he didn’t remember.
At least in America, military guys can’t stand draft dodgers. Trump then told Cohen, “Do I look like I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to go to Vietnam.” He thereby inferred that he did indeed get a phony medical exam sent to the draft board, as had often been rumored in and around New York City. See my posts about this, “Was Donald Trump a Draft Dodger;” “Testimony that Trump Was a Draft Dodger.”
Cohen gave a closing statement. It included him saying, “My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything.” He said he has changed and, “I will not sit back and say nothing.”
I thought Michael Cohen’s testimony today was very compelling. He was speaking true facts. He was under big pressure not to lie. If he did, the special counsel Robert Mueller could revoke his agreement with Cohen to tell his FBI team of lawyers everything they asked him, and that goes for all of what Cohen’s tells Congress as well. Besides, it is a felony to lie to Congress anyway. If Cohen lied today, his sentence in prison could be increased.
Plus, Cohen hardly ever hesitated to answer questions. He obviously has a quick mind. He never stuttered at all. He also read his prepared remarks, moving right along and never making a mistake in reading. I think Michael Cohen is telling the truth.
So, Donald Trump is big trouble after today. I think it’s only going to get worse for him.I’ve blogged about this over 100 times, almost always negative on Trump being president. Mueller’s report against Trump could be devastating. But will we the public ever see it? It would be travesty against our democracy if we don’t. That’s why Congress needs to do what they did today and a lot more. This has only been made possible because the Democrats gained the majority in the House during the November mid-term elections last year.