By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (2/28/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Convicted Trump lawyer and ‘fixer’ Michael Cohen completed his second day of Congressional hearings and by the time you are reading this he will likely be engaged in his third. The second of three days, Wednesday (2/27), was the only hearing open to the public. Cohen appeared before the House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Congressional hearings rarely live up to advance billing, as an example, acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker’s recent appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was a nothing-burger as he ran out the clock by carefully repeating every question before offering little in the way of answers.
The hearing today did not disappoint. We’ll revisit that opinion but let’s go rapid fire through some of the more memorable disclosures. Feel free to invest more time in any and all of these.
There are three riveting moments worthy of consideration:
First is what will likely be one of the more common headlines reporting on the hearing: Cohen says of Trump: “He’s a racist. He’s a conman. He’s a cheat“
Here’s one of the darker moments, a tweet capturing a Cohen remark from near the end of the hearing:
“7+ hours of testimony… The most important moment came near the end when Cohen said “If Trump loses in 2020 there is not going to be a peaceful transfer of power.” That should raise the hair on the back of everyone’s neck. We are in danger & the are complicit.”
And we’ll give this final nod(s) to Rep. Elijah Cummings who promised another “shoe to drop”:
“Cummings said his office worked “very closely” with federal prosecutors in New York and the special counsel, and he thinks “there is another shoe to drop.””
Cummings then closed the hearing with these remarks. It’s worth connecting to this short video of Cummings predicting “leading to a better United States of America and a better world”, it’s inspiring.
Bolstering Russia collusion case
We’ll highlight some of the instances where Cohen’s testimony bolstered the public case of Trump-Russia collusion with this offering from David Corn at Mother Jones: How Cohen’s Testimony Backs Up the Case That Trump Helped Russia Attack the 2016 Election.
“In his prepared , Cohen testified that he suspected that Trump was told by Trump Jr. about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. His testimony was not a slam dunk. Cohen noted that in the summer of 2017 when news of the Trump Tower meeting emerged, he recalled being in Trump’s office in early June 2016 and seeing Trump Jr. enter the office, walk behind the desk, and say in a low voice to his father, “The meeting is all set.” Cohen told the committee, “I remember Mr. Trump saying, ‘Okay good…let me know.’”
“Cohen said he believes this sotto voce conversation between father and son was related to the Trump Tower meeting, but he did not produce any evidence to back up his suspicion. But Cohen did explain, “Mr. Trump had frequently told me and others that his son Don Jr. had the worst judgment of anyone in the world. And also that Don Jr. would never set up any meeting of any significance alone—and certainly not without checking with his father. I also knew that nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval.” Cohen’s statement echoed a made by Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign manager and White House strategist, who said there was “zero” chance that Trump did not know about this meeting.”
There was a second revelation bolstering collusion:
“Cohen also testified that he was in Trump’s office in mid-July 2016 when Trump received a phone call from Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime adviser and a self-proclaimed political dirty trickster. According to Cohen, Trump put Stone on speakerphone, and Stone told Trump that he had just spoken with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, and that Assange had said that within days there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Clinton’s campaign. Trump essentially replied, Cohen recalled, by saying, “Wouldn’t that be great?” Days later, on the eve of the Democratic convention, WikiLeaks did make public over 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee.”
This could amount to Trump lying to federal investigators.
If you want a more thorough recitation and explanation read conservative author and never-Trumper Max Boot’s summary for the Washington Post: Here Are Five Felonies Trump Committed — If Cohen Is Telling The Truth.
Boot cites and explains conspiracy to defraud the United States, lying to the FBI and the Justice Department, suborning perjury, violating campaign finance laws and bank, wire and tax fraud.
By comparison, here’s a summary of the approach taken by the GOP members of the committee.
For New Jersey Governor and Trump’s head of transition Chris Christie noted: “There hasn’t been one Republican yet who’s tried to defend the president on the substance. I think that’s something that should be concerning to the White House.”
The fact is no GOP committee member put forward a defense of Trump based on issues or facts.
Here’s how Cohen summed up the GOP during the hearing about why he turned: Cohen Delivers Riveting Warning To Trump’s GOP Enablers: You’ll ‘suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering’ now.
“There are several factors — Helsinki, Charlottesville, watching the daily destruction of our civility to one another, putting up silly things like this,” Cohen said. “Really unbecoming of Congress. It’s that sort of behavior that I’m responsible for. I’m responsible for your silliness, because I did the same thing that you’re doing now, for 10 years.”
Revelations kept coming
There is so much more. AOC raised questions about insurance fraud. There was a rationale for Trump hiding his tax returns. Trump’s direction to Cohen to threaten his high school and colleges to make sure grades and test scores were not disclosed (this was confirmed by Fordham University during the hearing.).
And then there were the some 500 times Trump instructed Cohen to make threats for him over ten years.
With all of that, adding to Trump’s woes were news of two new legal actions against Trump that also happened on Wednesday: DC Attorney General Subpoenas Trump Inaugural Committee.
And Cohen confirms this about investigation of Trump by federal prosecutors for Southern District of New York: Trump Under Investigation By Federal Prosecutors In New York, Cohen Testifies.
One final point, proof that Dems can walk and chew gum: House Passes Sweeping Gun Bill.
And one last point: On Tuesday the House took this action with the support of 13 GOP Representatives: House Passes Measure Blocking Trump’s National Emergency Declaration.
Imagine the news if the GOP retained control of the House following the mid-term elections.
Elections have consequences.
Did this historic budge the needle in the eventual impeachment battle for hearts and minds?