Returning Home From Failed North Korea Summit, Trump Watches Cohen Debacle Unfold
Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, testifies during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)
As President Donald Trump returns home to the U.S. today after failing to secure a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he must now face the prospect of limiting the damage done by Michael Cohen’s ongoing testimony to the U.S. Congress. Here’s what happened yesterday at the contentious hearings.
The Michael Cohen testimony to the U.S. Congress House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election came as advertised: a blistering attack on Donald Trump’s personal and legal character. In a hearing watched by millions, Cohen repeatedly excoriated the President, attacking his credibility and legal misdeeds, leaving nothing hidden.
Part farce and part freak-show, no other country in the world revels in publicly flaying its politicians to the extent the U.S. does. Undoubtedly, it makes for gripping drama, much more interesting than anything airing on daytime TV.
But even as these affairs go, this one was cringeworthy – the ugly exchanges between Cohen and Republican questioners that punctuated today’s hearings was a bit like watching a bunch of rats fight over the last crumb of bread. It somehow made Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s highly volatile Supreme Court nomination hearing seem like a reasonable affair.
Right from the start Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, seemed to relish the chance to unleash his full tirade, a chance to avenge himself on the President. “He is a racist. He is a con man. And he’s a cheat,” said Cohen in his 30-minute opening diatribe.
And it only went downhill from there.
On whether the President knew that Roger Stone was working with WikiLeaks on releasing emails that were damaging to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Cohen said: [Trump] “was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.”
On paying hush money to a porn star that Trump had an affair with, Cohen displayed the cheque in question, saying: “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.”
On the President being a racist, Cohen recalled Trump saying: “He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’”
On his client’s insatiable desire to win the presidency: “Mr. Trump’s desire to win would have him work with anyone.”
When questioned about the number of instances Trump asked Cohen to threaten an individual on his behalf, Cohen said: “500 times.”