We first need to realize the disbarred attorney Michael Cohen revealed nothing in his much-anticipated congressional testimony that had not been made public in the course of the past two years. All the facts and unsupported theories were packaged in what can only be described as a prosecuting lawyer’s closing argument – filled with a scattering of facts, biased interpretations of documents, innuendoes, unprovable statements and obvious misrepresentation of facts. The testimony was crafted to get President Trump indicted in the court-of-public-opinion and worse.
The problem with Cohen’s testimony is that it did nothing to establish credibility. Quite the contrary. If one did not know better, the first part of his opening statement made it sound like he was up for canonization. You would have believed that Cohen was a noble, honest and decent human being – a civic benefactor and wonderful family man.
It was when he got into his obligatory mea culpa that one would realize that Cohen is a criminal and liar – and even then he minimized his crimes as foolish mistakes of a good man. He was led into his life of lies and crimes by the mesmerizing influence of Trump – and yes, he actually used the word “mesmerized.” He seemed to see himself – or at least wanted others to see him – as victim in all his admitted crimes. This is not something that one would normally think of in an ambitious, hard-nosed New York lawyer.
In his summation argument, he brought up every accusation that had befallen Trump since he rode down the escalator in Trump tower after announcing his candidacy for President of the United States. It was clear that absolution and justice were not his primary motivations. He was out for revenge.
He made broad claims about Trump’s character, leaving no room for any good quality. He heard Trump make racist remarks, which apparently no one else ever heard – and many disputed. He made claims regarding the purpose of checks and bank documents that were not substantiated by the documents themselves – it was only one man’s opinion. He dwelt on actions by Trump that, if true, would not have been criminal – such as asking to have his school records sealed. We need to recall that President Obama when to great lengths to make sure his school records were never seen by the public.
His use of innuendo was shameful. He said he did not know specifically of any collusion between Trump and Russian operatives but incredibly implied that when Trump’s son informed the candidate that “the meeting is set,” it was about the Trump tower meeting with a Russian lawyer.
Considering the number of meetings a presidential campaign holds, that is a preposterous interpretation. To add false credibility to that interpretation, Cohen engaged in yet another preposterous statement – that no one does anything in the Trump Organization without Trump knowing about it. Given the size of the Trump Organization and the number of employees – including management decision makers — that is not only untrue, it is impossible.
It was clear that Cohen’s primary objective was to engage in partisan politics to damage Trump with accusations that would play well with the left-leaning anti-Trump news media. Under questioning, he admitted that prior to his testimony Cohen and his attorneys had conferred with Democrats leading into his testimony.
There was not a single accusation Cohen made against the President that went beyond his opinion – his allegation. There were not only no smoking guns, there was zero corroborating evidence of his direct accusations or his interpretations of what documents he provided. Since the entire testimony relies on Cohen’s believability, his credibility is all-important. So, should he be believed?
The primary purpose for people telling lies is to benefit themselves. While Cohen said he lied for Trump’s benefit, that was secondary. The primary reason for his lies was to maintain a position that was financially rewarded not only in his pay from Trump but for the millions he was raking in solely because of his perceived influence with the President. He had a glamour job in which he was dealing at the highest levels with people of power and prominence. For a guy who would otherwise likely be a second-rate lawyer in Brooklyn.
Self-interest was also behind the lies unrelated to Trump which represented the bulk of his criminal convictions. That included multiple counts of bank fraud and tax evasion involving tens of millions of dollars.
Interestingly, Cohen gave deceptive, inaccurate and conflicting statements in his latest testimony. Some were minor. Others were more substantive. Despite his documented history of lies, he said he is not a liar. He claimed that he had not defrauded any banks even though some of his convictions were crimes of bank fraud. Cohen claimed that he never wanted to work in the White House even though there was ample documented evidence that he was attempting to and expecting to get a position in the White House. In one case, a Cohen statement got him a criminal referral to the Department of Justice for further investigation –exposing him to yet another charge of lying to Congress.
Cohen came before Congress with a clear intent to bring down Trump – to render his personal revenge. He also came before Congress with a high motivation to lie – and a long history as a liar. Even many of Trump critics conceded that Cohen is NOT a credible witness.
Cohen’s statement was nothing less than a lawyer’s brief against an individual. He well understood that the biased major media would not act as a judge in the court-of-public-opinion but rather as prosecution witnesses – and judging from the follow up reports, he was correct.
Cohen did launch one new anti-Trump narrative. He made the ridiculous contention that if Trump were to lose the 2020 election, he would attempt to retain power. That was the same outrageous prediction made by against President Obama by the more extreme and irrational elements on the right. Amazingly, the anti-Trump press picked up even on that bizarre statement as if it had some validity. It really demonstrated how seriously Trump Derangement Syndrome has afflicted even the mainstream media.
How much of Cohen’s testimony will lead to damaging information or evidence against Trump – and it is possible some might – it is yet to be determined. Looking at Cohen’s credibility and the lack of real, hard evidence is only one side of the picture. There will come another view. How Cohen’s testimony may be meaningful in getting at Trump will be the subject of a subsequent commentary.
So, there ‘tis.